Proving its initial critics such as Gov. Rick Scott wrong, Florida's long overdue crackdown on pill mills and unscrupulous doctors has seen significant results. Sales of the much abused painkiller oxycodone have declined dramatically, as have the number of doctors recklessly prescribing the drug. Florida still has a long way to go before it can shed its reputation as the pill mill capital of the country, but it has begun to successfully address the deadly scourge of prescription drug abuse.
Since the law went into effect July 1, pain clinics and doctors have been banned from selling certain types of controlled substances, especially oxycodone. Penalties were increased against those who overprescribe, and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database allowed doctors and pharmacies to determine whether a patient had been doctor shopping to buy excessive quantities of pain pills.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has reported oxycodone sales have dropped by 20 percent, while Florida doctors purchased 97 percent less oxycodone in 2011 than in 2010. More telling, in 2010, 90 of the top 100 oxycodone-buying physicians nationwide could be found in Florida. In 2011, that number dropped to 13. Good riddance.
The pill mill legislation toughening up oversight of prescription drugs almost didn't happen. But Attorney General Pam Bondi, Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, and Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, eventually prevailed in getting the pill mill legislation signed into law. It is quickly producing results, and Florida should keep up the pressure.