Protesters seek stronger action against doctors who overprescribe painkillers

TAMPA — Waving signs blasting "crooked doctors," a group of parents and worried citizens rallied Friday to stop prescription drug abuse, accusing the Florida Board of Medicine of "giving doctors license to kill."

They took their message to a meeting of the usually low-profile board, which disciplines doctors accused of overprescribing the painkillers. Prescription narcotics kill an average of more than seven Floridians a day.

About 15 people, mostly from South Florida, picketed outside the board meeting at Tampa's Wyndham Hotel on West Shore Boulevard. Many had lost children to drug overdoses or have watched loved ones become addicted to narcotics, prescribed by a physician or obtained illegally.

"My goal is to try to stop this from happening to someone else," said Jim Quinlan, 56, of Clearwater, whose 22-year-old son overdosed and died in 2007 after battling a prescription drug addiction.

The protest, organized by the Fort Lauderdale-based STOPP Now (Stop the Organized Pill Pushers Now), received supportive honks from people driving by.

Donald Mullins, a businessman who serves on the Board of Medicine, briefly spoke with the protesters. He wanted them to understand that the board can act only after doctors' cases have been investigated by state health officials.

A new state law places stricter regulations on doctors, including increased penalties for overprescribing oxycodone and other narcotics.

"We're on their side," Mullins said about the pickets. "We want to address the issues."

The group sought to address the board directly, but did not get on the agenda in time.

Letitia Stein may be reached at lstein@sptimes.com.

Protesters seek stronger action against doctors who overprescribe painkillers 09/30/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 12:37am]

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