Law enforcement agencies in Florida continue to crack down on scam pain clinics known “as pill mills” where pain medication is dispensed, often without a prescription.
And in Kentucky, the Speaker of the House wants to strengthen laws fighting the problem in his state.
The overuse of pain medications is a major problem in the treatment of chronic pain.
First, in West Palm Beach, Florida, four men who helped the notorious Jeff and Chris George run their multi-million dollars pill mills were sentenced in federal court Friday. The men received sentences from 9 months to 14 years. All the men pleaded guilty to various charges that involved the sale of more than 22 million illegally prescribed oxycodone pills. Up to 50 overdose deaths are believed to be associated with the scheme.
33 persons have been indicted so far and all but six have pleaded guilty.
Jeff George has pleaded guilty to second degree murder in state court. He will be sentenced in federal court on racketeering charges on January 13. His twin brother Chris will be sentenced on February 3.
Elsewhere in Florida, Pasco Sheriff’s detectives raided a pain clinic. Three men associated with the clinic have been arrested, including Dr. Daniel McIntire and Dr. William Crumbley. Crumbley has been sanctioned by Florida health officials in the past for over prescribing pain meds. His medical license is currently suspended.
“There’s no difference from what these doctors were doing in here than a drug dealer on the street,” said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
The year-long investigation revealed that people came to the clinic from across the state to have prescriptions written for what a detective called “the pain management cocktail,” including the strong and potentially addictive drugs Oxycodone, Xanax, Methadone, and Soma.
“I don’t call any of these people doctors,” said Nocco, “because they don’t deserve that title - they’re criminals.”
David Scafidi, a former clinic patient, says he has legitimate pain problems from polio, but he says this clinic just pushed the pills.
In Kentucky, an influential lawmaker wants to strengthen laws in that state. House Speaker Greg Stumbo said he believes pill mills will be a target of comprehensive drug legislation that will be introduced in the next session of the Kentucky legislature.
“Today the hot issue on the war on drugs is pill mills,” Stumbo said.
“If we can’t stop our own doctors within our borders who are over-prescribing schedule narcotics, then we cannot win this war,” said Stumbo.
Stumbo doesn’t think this is a problem that will be solved overnight, in fact he said in a recent speech he believes it will take twenty years to combat the drug problem.
“We can’t incarcerate ourselves out of this problem as a society. It’s going to take a long treatment, a long term education process for our young and there needs to be dedicated monies for that,” the Speaker said.