Thursday, December 10, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Pill Mills - Laws
South Florida pain clinics have become such public concerns. Cities are now passing ordinances to keep them out of their towns. This as existing clinics have become so bold they're taking over neighborhoods and even offering free lunch to attract customers. One lawmaker says enough is enough. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with the story.
WSVN -- It's gotten so busy at some South Florida pain clinics, security guards are wearing guns and putting out cones to control parking.
At this clinic, there are so many people some have to wait out back. At another, customers get a piece of pizza with their pain pills, and outside pharmacies people are still snorting crushed up pills in the parking lot.
Rep. Kelly Skidmore: "They are killing people quite literally in our state and in states all up the coast."
State representative Kelly Skidmore says, legitimate pain management should be available to anyone who needs it, but she says the state needs to do more to regulate pill mills that do nothing more than create addicts and feed addictions.
Rep. Kelly Skidmore: "Pain clinics can be owned by anyone. It's almost as if you're opening a nail salon and there's not a lot of regulation. So we have convicted felons who are owning and operating pain clinics."
Skidmore wants that to stop and will introduce a bill to regulate ownership.
Sgt. Rich Pisanti: "I think that would be great and I think that would help out a lot."
BSO Sgt. Rich Pisanti and his squad are on the front lines of an intense enforcement effort.
Sgt. Rich Pisanti: "The owners that have bad backgrounds, those clinics are problematic from the minute they open. They never really intend to do a good medical service. They intend to get as many patients in get as many drugs out as they can keep the bottom line going."
Also impacted, doctors who are trained and certified and specialize in pain management Dr. Sanford Silverman says their reputations are being tarnished.
Dr. Sanford Silverman: "Well unfortunately people will say, 'Oh, you're a pain doctor, do you prescribe Oxycodone?' And the answer is, I don't prescribe Oxycodone, I don't think that's a particularly good drug for pain."
Dr. Silverman says people who seek out help for real pain issues at pill mills aren't getting what they need because everybody gets the same cocktail of dangerous drugs.
Dr. Sanford Silverman: "If you use the same thing for everybody, the same type of control drugs, all you're going to do is lead to physical dependence, even tolerance and possibly death."
And the number of deaths is staggering. Ten people die from overdoses in Florida every single day. Broward has more deaths than any other county.
Carmel Cafiero: "As a result, this holiday season, instead of celebrating many families will be mourning mothers and fathers, sons and daughters lost to addiction and to overdoses."