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Manatee County adopts code to shut down pill mills

BRADENTON — Calling the problem of proliferating pain management clinics an emergency situation, the Manatee County Commission today unanimously adopted an ordinance that will make it difficult for these types of businesses to operate locally.

Assistant County Attorney Jim Minx told commissioners data and reports indicate there is crisis with prescription drug overdose deaths increasing, along with a high rate of hospitalizations.

Capt. Pat Bartholomew, with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, said, “the pill mill problem is epidemic.”

These clinic have been labeled pill mills because of the ease for people to obtain prescriptions for large numbers of controlled substance medications, such as morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl.

“These prescription drugs are easy to obtain,” Bartholomew told the commission. “People are prescribed the maximum of 240 pills.”

He also noted a majority of those using the pill mills are from out of state, because Florida has lax prescription drug monitoring laws, unlike other states.

The new code, which takes effect immediately, requires privately owned clinics that prescribe or dispense narcotic medications that employ a physician primarly engaged in writing prescriptions and accepts only cash, check or credit card payments to apply for a permit within 30 days.

If such clinics do not receive a permit, the owners will be subject to a fine and/or imprisonment.

Also, the ordinance established a 180-day moratorium on operating pain management clinics after the 30-day application period, even with a permit.

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