BRADENTON — Heeding calls from the community, the City Council unanimously adopted a moratorium on the opening of pain management clinics, often referred to as pill mills.
Nine people addressed the council Wednesday to passionately voice their support for the ordinance that would prohibit pain management clinics in the city for a year to allow new zoning laws to be drafted and approved.
Kim Zipperer drove in from Myakka City to tell her story and why the moratorium is needed.
“You hear a lot of statistics,” Zipperer said, “but I lived it with my son.”
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Her 18-year-old son was a good student and a star baseball player, but he became a drug addict.
She said she did all the right things in raising her son, including enrolling him in Little League and Boy Scouts, never thinking he would head down a path leading to jail.
Zipperer said her son was arrested and has 49 days left of a one-year sentence in the Manatee County jail.
“He will enter rehab,” she said, “but what will his life be like in the future?”
Ruth Lyerly, with the Family Against Drug Abuse, read a resolution of support from her organization.
Lyerly said statistics show one in 20 high school seniors report using oxycodone, a narcotic used medically for pain.
Councilwoman Marianne Barnebey brought the proposition to the council several weeks ago after a group of people gathered May 4 at the 1910 Medical Clinic at 1910 Manatee Ave. W.
The clinic has since moved to Ellenton, which is in Manatee County.
Lyerly said there are 19 pain clinic in the county prescribing and dispensing large amounts of opiate drugs, such as oxycodone.
The Manatee County Commission may be taking up a similar moratorium ordinance at its June 8 meeting, Commissioner John Chappie said before the city council meeting.
“Where these clinic open, the neighborhood deteriorates,” Chappie said. “Also, the harm it does to those who patronize them is a health, welfare and safety issue.”
The Sarasota County Commission also will consider a moratorium ordinance at its June 8 meeting.
Chappie said the moratoriums are needed because of the delay in when the state law takes effect.
The Florida Legislature passed a bill requiring pain management clinics to register with the state, but it does not take effect until Oct. 1.
Two doctors also spoke at the Bradenton meeting, calling the clinics a problem.
After the meeting, Dr. Fabian Ramos, who has a practice on Third Street West, said pain medication should only be prescribed when there is a recognized pathology and a medical diagnosis.
The pill mills may not be using these medically approved procedures, Ramos said.
“There’s no specialty of medicine that provides a single method to treat a patient,” he said.
Dr. Aaron Sudbury, the immediate past president of the Manatee County Medical Society, said his organization whole-heartedly supports the moratorium.
“They’re a public health hazard,” Sudbury said outside the council chambers.
According to Sharon Kramer, the director of Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, the county ranks in the top 20 in Florida in dispensing oxycodone.
“These pill mills are a scourge and threat to the community,” Kramer said.
Barnebey said the community came together on this issue.
“They said they don’t want this drug dealing here,” she said. “Bradenton is protecting its citizens, and Bradenton is protecting our children.”