Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

The governor and state lawmakers are proposing new prescription limits to fight opioid abuse.  But they also want to require physicians use a long-standing drug monitoring database—raising the question, why wasn’t it mandatory to begin with?

Pill Mill Crackdown Saved 1,000 Lives

Dec 22, 2015
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The Florida Legislature’s crackdown on so-called pill mills saved more than 1,000 lives over three years.

That’s according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health Monday. Researchers compared Florida to North Carolina, which had similar prescription drug overdose problems but didn’t make big reforms.

In Florida, law enforcement arrested 47 pill mill owners, doctors and staff, and also suspended 92 DEA licenses to prescribe opioids. Then state laws limited how much doctors could prescribe and curtailed doctor shopping.

Five years ago, Florida was recognized as the unofficial pill mill capitol of the country. Ninety-three of the top 100 oxycodone-dispensing doctors in the U.S. practiced in Florida.  Since then the state has made aggressive efforts to crack down on unscrupulous doctors and pain clinics.  In his new book, American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic,” Journalism professor and author John Temple chronicles how brothers Christopher and Jeffrey George created the largest painkiller distribution ring in the country through their South Florida clinics and how Florida’s lax regulations at the time helped make it all possible.

Since Florida implemented its prescription drug monitoring program four years ago, prescription overdose deaths have dropped by 25 percent. That’s according to a new University of Florida study.

But the new state regulations have also had an unintended effect — people who have a legitimate need for pain medication are having a harder time finding it.

Pranjal Mahna /Flickr

A new study from Johns Hopkins University shows Florida’s pill mill crackdown worked in its first year.

After becoming the epicenter for prescription opioid abuse, the state passed tougher laws for pain management clinics. The state also implemented a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program which gave healthcare professionals a better look at patients’ prescription drug histories.The laws went into full affect in 2011. Researchers at Johns Hopkins looked at hundreds of millions of prescriptions from the year before and after.

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