In 2010, seven people in Florida were dying each day because of overdoses on prescription drugs. It was also the year that the Drug Enforcement Administration reported that their Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System found that out of the top 100 physicians dispensing oxycodone, 98 were in Florida.
Until recently, Florida had no Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, had little oversight of the dispensing habits of physicians and had a limited regulatory oversight of practices specializing in pain management. Pill mills, which are doctor’s offices, clinics or health care facilities that prescribe and dispense prescription pain medications that violates Florida state laws or is outside of the medical practice standards. In 2010, there were over 900 pain management clinics. Once legislation was enacted that allowed various law enforcement agencies to crack down on pill mills, that number dropped dramatically. By 2014, there 367 such clinics in the state.
In 2012, there were 2,090 deaths due to drug overdoses. This was a substantial decrease from 2010 of 2,710 deaths. The Pill Mill Initiative of 2011 made both the administrative and the criminal penalties tougher for those who engage in prescription drug trafficking, especially doctors and clinics. It also established standards of care for physicians who do prescribe narcotics and they must now register with the Department of Health. Pharmacies have stricter oversight and the time limits for entering information into the prescription drug database was reduced.
For those charged with distributing or trafficking prescription drugs or controlled substances, the penalties can be severe, including significant prison time and hefty fines. An attorney can help you understand what these penalties entail and how to build a strong defense case against the charges.