Florida Law Enforcement Prescription
MIAMI, FL – While Florida has been viewed as the epicenter of the nation’s ‘pill mill’ epidemic, recent evidence demonstrates that the efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners have made a significant difference. The state’s dubious distinction of ‘epicenter’ was solidified in 2010 when DEA’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS) reported that 90 of the top 100 oxycodone purchasing physicians in the nation were located in Florida.
New Florida laws have stripped doctors of their ability to dispense controlled substances, including opioid based pain relievers, at rogue pain clinics. ARCOS currently confirms what DEA anticipated: that oxycodone purchases by doctors in Florida have dropped drastically. In fact, there has been a 97% decrease in 2011 compared to 2010.
The combination of law enforcement activity, regulatory actions against doctors’ licenses, and the new laws are forcing addicts who previously traveled from other states to Florida seeking oxycodone to turn elsewhere. Interestingly, there have been notable increases in doctors purchasing oxycodone in Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. The number of Florida doctors appearing in the nationwide list of the top 100 oxycodone purchasing physicians dropped from 90 in 2010 to only 13 in 2011. Further, the ARCOS 2011 reports reveals 21 doctors located in Georgia and 11 in Tennessee are now among the top 100.
As a result of law enforcement efforts and new state law, the remaining pill mill doctors are turning to writing prescriptions to be filled at pharmacies for drugs they previously dispensed directly to the customer. These prescriptions are then filled at pharmacies.
While logically it would seem that one could expect a significant increase in oxycodone purchases by pharmacies to fulfill the demand, recent ARCOS data indicates this is not the case. ARCOS reveals that purchases of oxycodone only increased during the first quarter of 2011, compared to 2010. But on the heels of a large-scale prescription drug investigation called Operation Pill Nation, announced on February 23, 2011, monthly purchases soon decreased compared to 2010. The chart below shows the monthly change in oxycodone purchases between 2010 and 2011.
% Increase/Decrease in Purchases of Oxycodone by Florida Pharmacies 2010 to 2011
Mark R. Trouville, Special Agent in Charge, DEA Miami Field Division, stated, “The arrests and administrative actions taken against the owners of “pill mills” and rogue pharmacies, and the doctors and pharmacists working there, not only put these individuals out of business, but sent a clear message to others that the diversion of licit pharmaceutical pain killers would not be tolerated. These statistics indicate that the message has been delivered. Families affected by the prescription drug epidemic across Florida and the nation should rest assured that our efforts, such as Operation Pill Nation, will continue.”
DEA is spearheading Operation Pill Nation, an on-going effort to disrupt the illegal diversion of pharmaceutical drugs in South Florida. Agencies participating in Operation Pill Nation include: the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office, Miami-Dade County Police Department, Hollywood Police Department, Sunrise Police Department, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Health, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement.