MANATEE — A pain-management clinic that was the target of protesters, who called it a “pill mill,” has relocated from Bradenton to larger quarters in Ellenton.
A clinic official said the move was unrelated to the opposition, but protest organizers say they plan to continue their efforts to shut down 1910 Medical Clinic.
The clinic opened Monday at its new location in a small office complex along U.S. 301 in front of the Plantation Bay subdivision. It previously operated at 1910 Manatee Ave. W., where it was picketed by neighbors and Families Against Addictive Drug Abuse and prompted a proposed moratorium on new pain clinics in Bradenton.
“We’ve moved to a bigger location,” said Steve Stone, who identified himself as 1910 Medical Clinic’s director.
When asked if the move was related to the protests, he said “not at all,” then said he was busy with patients and hung up. During a follow-up call, Stone again said he was busy but added that media coverage of the controversy has resulted in new patients.
That’s something that Families Against Addictive Drug Abuse wants to reverse.
The group, formed by parents whose children died from prescription-drug abuse, said it plans to notify the clinic’s new neighbors of its presence. The group contends 1910 Medical Clinic is a “pill mill,” a facility that prescribes and/or dispenses large amounts of narcotics and other controlled substances without following proper medical procedures, which the clinic has denied.
One of the group’s co-founders said the clinic’s move only changes the battlefield. “It still puts the drugs out on the street in our county,” Ruth Lyerly said. “It doesn’t solve the problem. It just moves it to another neighborhood.”
The few Plantation Bay residents who answered their doors Monday afternoon did not want to be quoted, but said they were unaware of the clinic’s opening. Some said they worried about schoolchildren who must walk past the clinic.
Mike Horning, who works at Roadmaster Truck Driving School nearby, said he noticed several people waiting in cars outside the clinic’s front door when he arrived for work at 6:45 a.m. The clinic opened at 8 a.m., and a steady stream of people had been going in and out since then, he said.
According to the clinic’s website, patients must be at least 21 years old, have a valid form of identification and have an up-to-date MRI scan proving injury in order to be seen. The clinic does not dispense but prescribes medication. Patients pay $240 for the first visit and $120 for each subsequent visit, and only cash is accepted.
Despite the clinic’s move, Bradenton officials still are scheduled later this month to consider a ban on new pain clinics within the city. Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey, who proposed the ordinance, said she hopes the moratorium is in effect until proposed state regulations take effect.
“It doesn’t relieve me to know that an astronomical amount of drugs are still being dumped in our community,” she said of 1910 Medical Clinic’s move. “The problem still exists and it’s going to exist until we have some teeth in our state laws.”