Monday, April 12, 2010
Pill Mills Kill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
NSU Office of Public Affairs
NSU to Host a Panel Discussion on Prescription Drug Abuses in Florida on April 12
FT. LAUDERDALE-DAVIE Fla.
---- Michael Jackson, Corey Haim, Heath Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith all died from prescription drug overdoses. They are not alone. Seven Floridians die each day from the same thing. “Nationwide, the problem is out of control,” said Raymond G. Ferrero III, J.D., partner with Addiction Recovery Legal Services law firm and the executive director of health affairs for Nova Southeastern University’s Health Professions Division. “South Florida has become an epicenter of the illegal prescription drug trade that’s feeding America’s demand for prescription painkillers and other addictive narcotics.”
Broward and Palm Beach counties have become ground zero in this illegal prescription drug trade, where unscrupulous doctors and other health care professionals run “Pill Mills” and walk the fine line between over-prescribing legal painkillers and violating state laws.
Nova Southeastern University’s medical students, faculty and community leaders are looking to tackle these issues head on. They have organized a public panel discussion on Monday, April 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Steele Auditorium on NSU’s main Davie campus.
Called “Pain Management vs. Pill Mills”, the panel will consist of experts from the medical and legal community, as well as treatment providers, legitimate pain management caregivers and former addicts, all of whom are dedicated to fighting the problem. The panel will be moderated by WSVN-TV investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero, whose watchdog stories helped bring the issue of so called “Pill Mills” into the public eye.
Pill Mills are doctor’s offices, clinics, and/or health care facilities that routinely over-prescribe and dispense large quantities of controlled substances, such as painkillers, to patients from within their facility. These are establishments that often operate without insurance and on a cash-only basis. They run robust businesses, selling high concentration of pills.
Their patients, who are often “doctor shopping”, travel to Florida from states as far away as Tennessee, Kentucky and Maine by the busloads to visit these Pill Mills. These patients fill their prescriptions from one Pill Mill to the next until they end up with a myriad of pills that they use themselves or sell for top dollar on the black market.
“Pill Mills are turning their patients into addicts by over-prescribing highly addictive painkillers such as OxyContin, Oxycodone, Roxicodone, Xanax, Soma, Valium, you name it.” said Ferrero, who is also a panelist at the NSU forum.
According to the Florida Office of Drug Control, the nation’s top 50 prescribers of the painkiller known as oxycodone operate in Florida. Not surprisingly, the data shows that the top 24 prescribers of oxycodone reside and work in Broward County.
Pill Mills sit in stark contrast to physicians practicing legitimate pain management ---- a system where physicians operate legally and legitimately to treat patients with chronic physical pain.
State lawmakers have also joined the fight against Pill Mills by recently passing legislation and earmarking funds to support the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in Florida. This program aims to crackdown on Pill Mills and doctor shopping by networking pharmacies, doctors, and other healthcare professionals, who receive alerts about patients who are trying to fill multiple prescriptions for the same medical condition. Oftentimes, these medical conditions are fraudulent.
“We have made great progress in this fight, but there is always more that can be done,” Ferrero said.
The panel will take place at NSU’s Health Professions Division’s Steele Auditorium, located at 3200 S. University Drive in Davie.