Monday, August 15, 2011
Carmel on the Case: Prescription Pill Crackdown
A major drug bust occurred as authorities go to destructive lengths to crack down on a troubling trend. The state is on the way to winning the war on pill mills, a battle that we learned today is quite personal for our governor. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero has the story.
WSVN -- You're watching the destruction of $1 million worth of pain pills seized from South Florida pain clinics, also knows as "Pill Mills," because they churn out huge numbers of the highly-addictive pills to addicts and traffickers.
Earlier, the 149,000 pills were on display as state officials released new numbers that show drug purchases by doctors and pharmacies are down by 17 percent.
However, deaths are not.
Jerry Bailey, FDLE Commissioner: "This year's report continues a tragic trend. Prescription drugs continue to be found more often than illicit drugs in Florida death investigations."
Governor Rick Scott called other statistics encouraging. Among them, a report from the Broward Sheriff's Office that along Commercial Boulevard, where there were once dozens of pain clinics, today there is only one.
Governor Rick Scott: "We have taken more than 600,000 pills off the streets. In addition, we have suspended more than 75 licenses because of illegal dispensing, prescribing or the use of prescription drugs."
And for the doctors still working at pain clinics, there was a strong message from the state's surgeon general.
Dr. Frank Farmer, Surgeon General: "Those that flaunt the law, inappropriately write prescriptions, they will have their licenses lifted by the Department of Health."
It's an issue that hits home for the governor.
He says his brother has been on drugs all of his life.
Carmel Cafiero, Investigative Reporter: "When you say, sir, that he's been on drugs, do you mean that he is addicted to drugs? Is it illegal drugs?"
Governor Rick Scott: "I don't talk to him about it, so I don't know, but I know that he's into stuff by law enforcement a lot. I've put him in a variety of psychiatric programs, and to this day, it hasn't worked."
And later, the governor told me his brother isn't the only family member to suffer from addiction.
Governor Rick Scott: "Both alcoholism and drug abuse. It's devastating, and it's just devastating to the families. You know, my mom has dealt with this all her life, and my brother has dealt with it."
It is the kind of suffering untold numbers of families deal with every day, fed in large measure by Florida pill mills.
Carmel Cafiero: "And while there is no doubt progress is being made, the fact is, the epidemic is far from over."
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