No one disputes that opiate addiction is a national problem. Statistics show that over 52,000 Americans died because of drug abuse, or about 142 people a day. One-third of those deaths are from opioids prescribed by doctors.
Although a national problem, Florida led the nation in opioid abuse until recently. Individuals from all over the southeastern United States flooded into Florida to visit our “pill mills.” I-75 was known as the gateway to easy drugs. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration referred to I-75 as the “Oxy Express.”
A single pill mill in Tampa wrote scripts for over 1 million oxycodone pills in a six-month period in 2019. Of the top 100 doctors in the nation prescribing oxycodone, 98 resided in Florida.
The situation was so bad in Florida that Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi created the Florida Regulatory Drug Enforcement Task Force to combat drug abuse in Florida and crack down on the pill mills.
The Task Force had great success in reducing the abuse by pill mills. The number of oxycodone pills prescribed dropped from 650 million in 2010 to 300 million in 2013. Almost 4,000 individuals were arrested including 67 doctors. Over 848,000 pills were seized, as well as $10 million in cash. 254 pill mills were shut down.
Changes in the Florida drug laws now require patients to see a certified pain specialist monthly in order to receive prescriptions for pain meds. Where 98 out of the top 100 doctors prescribing oxycodone resided in Florida in 2010, that number was zero in 2013.
Florida had great success in closing the pill mills and eliminating much of the drug abuse that existed. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is that individuals with chronic pain have a very difficult time getting their pain meds in a timely fashion. Pain specialists can write a