‘Pill Mills’ and Doctors Targeted for Florida Prescription Abuse
Attorney General Pam Bondi has been keeping close tabs on the widespread prescription-drug addiction problem that has taken hold of Southern and Central Florida. As the Attorney General stated, “We are the epicenter for the country in prescription drug abuse.” The dispensation and consumption of painkillers such as Oxycontin cause seven people to die in Florida each day, according to Bondi.
While prescription-drug abusers still face criminal penalties, Bondi is taking aim at the pain clinics and physicians serving as enablers for those addicted to pharmaceutical medication. The Attorney General has outlined numerous action items as part of her plan to aggressively pursue, shut down and prosecute pill mills and their doctors.
The Proposed Laws
The laws under consideration aim at crippling the livelihood of doctors who offend the state’s prescription-drug laws. Under the proposed law:
- If physicians are found to have violated standards of care when prescribing controlled substances, they will receive a $10,000 fine and a six-month suspension from practicing medicine.
- Those who dispense more than three days’ worth of a controlled substance without first performing a physical examination upon the patient may face criminal penalties.
- Anyone who commits fraud in the registration of a pain clinic may face felony charges.
- Pain clinics would be required to report any theft of prescription medication to police within 2 days of it being stolen, in an effort to better account for all controlled substances.
Bondi has also devoted more resources to the issue, by slotting former Senator Dave Aronberg to serve as a special prosecutor focusing on the task of taking down rogue pain clinics in Florida.
The Impact of the Legislation
While nearly everyone agrees that action must be taken to reduce prescription drug abuse, not everyone agrees with Bondi’s proposals. Doctors and their lobbyists argue that the proposed laws could impose unprecedented punishment upon good doctors who make honest mistakes in overprescribing medication.
Many physicians also find fault in the provisions that would require a physical examination to prescribe more than three days’ worth of medicine. They argue that doctors often develop relationships with their patients and some of them are terribly ill; subjecting all parties to the extra time and cost of an examination is overkill and would do little to curb the problem.
However, the bill’s supporters reason that doctors have been working in a closely regulated profession for decades and they are fully capable of following the rules. They comment that the serious pharmaceutical-drugepidemic calls for tough laws to address the problem. “There are more pain clinics in Broward County than there are McDonalds,” Aronberg stated to emphasize the extent of the issue.
Prescription Drug Defense
Anyone facing pharmaceutical drug charges needs to appreciate the severity of the accusations. Unlawful possession of Oxycontin can result in drug-trafficking charges, even when possessing just a small amount of medication. Doctors and pharmaceutical distributors face severe charges and loss of their livelihood. Regardless of the nature of your pharmaceutical drug charges, it is crucial to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that will help you form a defense strategy.