DEA says 'pill mill' crackdown working in Florida

Florida's recent crackdown on prescription drug abuse, including a law passed by the Legislature last year to combat "pill mills," has led to a 97-percent decrease in the number of oxycodone pills prescribed by doctors in the state, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said.

The DEA also reported that Florida pharmacies purchased 14 percent less oxycodone in 2011.

That is a sharp contrast to 2010, when 90 of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing physicians in the nation were located in Florida, according to the DEA. Only 13 Florida doctors made the last in 2011. Meanwhile, doctors purchasing oxycodone in Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky increased in 2011, according to the agency.

Rep. Robert Schenck, R-Spring Hill, who sponsored the "pill mill" legislation, said via a news release that he was proud of the strides made as a result of the new law.

“Florida was previously the nation’s capital for prescription drug abuse, but thanks to critical reform measures spearheaded by the Florida Legislature, prescription drug abuse continues to fall,” Schenck said. “For too long, the lives of Floridians have been stolen by bad actors who profit from prescription drug abuse. I am pleased to see our legislation is helping to reduce the incidence of illegal prescription drug purchases around the state.”

The measure was approved by lawmakers on the last day of the 2011 session after last-minute compromises were reached. It tightened reporting requirements to a prescription drug monitoring database, bans most doctors on dispensing for prescription medications, and moved toward created a monthly dosage cap for pharmacies. The legislation also increased penalties for doctors or anyone found guilty of unlawful dispension, theft or failure to report the loss of controlled substances.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, put out a statement applauding the strides the state has made while noting that some members of the Legislature tried to block or water down the legislation now receiving praise.

“Despite the opposition and objections of certain House members and the current executive branch, the tough laws passed in 2011 strengthened the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and prohibited the sale of narcotics from doctors offices," he said.