Tag Archives: Florida

Ga. pharmacy robberies rise after pill mill crackdown

gunPharmacy officials in Georgia are reporting that robberies are occurring with greater frequency in light of the state’s recent crackdown on pill mills. According to this article, Georgia became a pill mill magnet after neighboring states, including Florida, passed tougher laws regulating pain clinics.

Georgia lawmakers passed similar legislation last year requiring pain clinics to be licensed by the state medical board and owned by physicians, and the state also launched a prescription drug monitoring program, the article says. As the pill mills have dwindled, pharmacy officials say people who have addictions are being forced to seek drugs elsewhere, leading to the spike in robberies, the article says.

In 2010 alone, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner’s Office reported there were 560 prescription drug-related deaths in the 152 of 159 counties for which it performs autopsies — at least a 10 percent increase since 2009.

Florida’s efforts to combat painkiller abuse resulted in the number of pill mills in that state dropping from 854 to 580 between March 2011 and March 2012, according to this article. In that same time period, the number of inappropriate prescribers of OxyContin in Florida dropped from 98 to 11; Florida previously had the most prescribers of OxyContin in the nation, the article says.

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Fla. clinic to serve opiate-addicted babies

babybottleIn Florida, the prescription drug addiction epidemic has resulted in more pregnant mothers giving birth to children who are already addicted to opiates. To deal with this troubling issue, the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Clinic at All Children’s Outpatient Care in Sarasota has begun providing a variety of free services for addicted babies from birth to 24 months of age, according to this article.

In the last two to three years, Sarasota Memorial Hospital saw an increase in drug-addicted newborns of about 700%, the article says. Statewide, seven out of 1,000 babies born in Florida have neonatal abstinence syndrome, which involves symptoms such as inconsolable crying, tremors, seizures, diarrhea and vomiting. In 2011, 1,563 newborns were diagnosed with drug exposure in Florida, according to the article.

Most NAS cases involve non-Hispanic white infants, the article adds, and nearly half of women who delivered a baby diagnosed with NAS received prenatal care in a private physician’s office.

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Walgreens to pay $80M over black-market Oxy sales

bunchofpillsThe U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency announced Tuesday that Walgreens has agreed to shell out $80 million to settle allegations that it allowed oxycodone and other controlled drugs to be diverted for black market sales from its Jupiter, Fla., distribution center.

The settlement, which is the largest in the DEA’s history, comes after the agency accused Walgreens last year of failing to maintain proper controls to ensure it didn’t dispense drugs to addicts and drug dealers.

According to the DEA, the Jupiter distribution center has been the single largest distributor of oxycodone products in Florida since 2009. In 2011, 16 of the top 25 largest oxycodone purchasers by Walgreens retail pharmacies, including the top six purchasers, were in Florida and supplied by the Jupiter center, the agency said.

Walgreens “committed an unprecedented number of record-keeping and dispensing violations” under the Controlled Substances Act, which is designed to prevent prescription painkillers from ending up on the streets, the DEA said.

In addition to the payout, Walgreens’ Jupiter center is banned from distributing and dispensing similar controlled substances until 2014. The deal also resolves similar investigations nationwide, including in Colorado, Michigan, and New York.

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More residents using Ky. involuntary treatment law

head-in-hands-manAs the prescription drug and heroin epidemic in Kentucky has worsened, residents have been taking advantage of a law that allows parents or other concerned people to petition the court to order involuntary drug treatment for an adult, according to this article. The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention, enacted in 2004, is named for Casey Wethington of Kenton County, who died of a heroin overdose in August 2002 at age 23, the article says. More than a dozen states have laws dealing with involuntary commitment for addiction treatment, including Florida and Ohio.

Fewer than 10 Casey’s Law petitions were filed in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties each year from 2004 through 2008, the article notes, but cases for the three counties jumped to a total of 20 in 2009 and in 2010, then shot up to 66 in 2011 and 71 in 2012 as the opiate epidemic progressed.

Heroin use in Kentucky has exploded in the past decade, fed by sophisticated supply networks focused on mostly white suburban and rural users who have become hooked on prescription painkillers, according to an earlier article by the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Heroin deaths surge in Fla. following pill crackdown

pills and syringeFlorida has taken a number of measures to combat its prescription drug addiction problem, with the unintended consequence of the resurgence of heroin as a popular substitute for painkillers. From July 2010 to June 2011, there were 45 heroin-related deaths statewide, according to this article, which cites data from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. That number jumped to 77 heroin-related deaths from July 2011 to June 2012, the article says.

The article also notes that addiction treatment numbers are up in Florida, with treatment centers in Broward County seeing an 87% increase in admissions in 2012 among addicts using heroin as their drug of choice, up from 169 to 316; in Miami-Dade County, such admissions jumped from 227 to 308 in the first half of 2012.

It was reported earlier this year that while the number of oxycodone-related deaths in Florida plunged during the first half of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, heroin-related deaths were holding steady.

Florida’s crackdown on painkiller abuse has resulted in the number of pill mills in the state dropping from 854 to 580 between March 2011 and March 2012, according to this article.

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As Fla. pill supply dwindles, heroin sweeps East Coast

heroinfoilFlorida’s crackdown on pill mills has dried up the supply of pills to much of the East Coast, with the unintended consequence of fueling heroin abuse. As this article notes, the rise in heroin use on Cape Cod “follows a predictable course seen nationwide: when the pills disappear, heroin sweeps in.”

Between Feb. 26 and March 30, the Cape saw at least eight drug-related deaths; in the same period, police responded to another four suspected heroin overdoses in which the person was revived, the article says.

A few years ago, most cases handled by the Cape Cod Drug Task Force involved pills, but now the police estimate that as much as 95% of their caseload is heroin-related, according to the article.

The trend highlights the fallout from Florida’s efforts to turn around its reputation as the nation’s epicenter of prescription drug abuse. On the bright side, the tougher regulations resulted in the number of pill mills in the state dropping from 854 to 580 between March 2011 and March 2012, according to this article.

In that same time period, the number of inappropriate prescribers of OxyContin in Florida dropped from 98 to 11; Florida previously had the most prescribers of OxyContin in the nation, the article says.

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In Fla., Oxy deaths decline, but heroin deaths hold steady

palm tree cemetaryIn a sign that some of the measures Florida has taken to combat its prescription drug addiction problem are working, state authorities are reporting that the number of oxycodone-related deaths plunged during the first half of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. From January 2012 to June 2012, there were 759 oxycodone-related deaths, down from 1,058 during the same period in 2011, according to this article.

In that time period, there were 42 oxycodone-related deaths in Orange and Osceola counties — fewer than half the number of those deaths during the same period of the previous year — while heroin-related deaths remained the same, the article says. Meanwhile, in Seminole County, the number of oxycodone-related deaths during the 2011 and 2012 periods remained the same, 19, and there were increases in deaths associated with cocaine, methadone and morphine, according to the article.

While these numbers are encouraging, the Miami Herald recently called into question how effective the state’s crackdown on pills has really been. Although many of Florida’s so-called “pill mills” seem to have shifted to the more permissive regulatory environment in nearby Georgia, some operators have switched to weight-loss or anti-aging clinics, where they continue to sell profitable pharmaceuticals right on the premises, the article noted.

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N.C. drug monitoring database underused: report

RXLike many states, North Carolina has implemented a prescription drug monitoring database to identify people who abuse and misuse powerful painkillers. Now, a new study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that the system – which is voluntary – is only used by about one-third of the 34,000 physicians who are registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe controlled substances – and fewer than half of those registered actually used it in the last six months of 2011.

However, at the same time, the number of patients with the most severe drug-seeking behaviors – those who used 10 prescribers and 10 pharmacists within six months – decreased substantially from 217 in 2008 to 115 in 2012, the study found.

Prescription drug overdose kills an average of three people per day in North Carolina.

Nearly all states have operational prescription drug monitoring programs, with the exception of Montana, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Georgia, Maryland, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia, according to the latest research from the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs.

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In Fla., pill mill crackdown falling short: Miami Herald

medcabinetFlorida’s battle against its massive prescription drug epidemic has been ongoing for years, with state officials taking a number of measures to combat abuse. But despite these efforts, it seems the fight is far from over, according to this recent article in the Miami Herald. Although many of the so-called “pill mills” seem to have shifted to the more permissive regulatory environment in nearby Georgia, some operators have switched to weight-loss or anti-aging clinics, where they continue to sell profitable pharmaceuticals right on the premises, the article notes.

Florida’s much-anticipated prescription drug monitoring database had been touted as a great triumph in the state’s fight. But a recent investigation by the Tampa Bay Times found that the vast majority of medical practitioners don’t even use the system, because they are not required by law to check it to see where and when their patients filled previous prescriptions, the type and quantity of drugs they got and who prescribed them.

Since the system was launched last September, more than 48 million prescriptions have been written in Florida for controlled substances — about 2.5 for every man, woman and child in the state — but prescribers checked the database before writing just 2% of them, the article says.

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Few Fla. doctors using prescription monitoring system: report

Florida has been fighting its statewide prescription drug epidemic with a number of measures, including a prescription drug monitoring database. But a recent investigation by the Tampa Bay Times found that the vast majority of medical practitioners don’t even use the system, because they are not required by law to check it to see where and when their patients filled previous prescriptions, the type and quantity of drugs they got and who prescribed them.

Since the system was launched last September, more than 48 million prescriptions have been written in Florida for controlled substances — about 2.5 for every man, woman and child in the state — but prescribers checked the database before writing just 2% of them, the article says.

Meanwhile, TCPalm reports that Florida’s crackdown on painkiller abuse has had an unintended effect: some patients with documented cases of chronic pain say they are being turned away from pharmacies because of the medication they are seeking, according to this article.

The state also continues to grapple with the fallout of prescription drug addiction in its hospital delivery rooms, with a dramatic spike in children born dependant on opioids, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome, this article reports.

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