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CDC Praises FL Defeat of ‘Pill Mills’

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is applauding Florida’s crackdown on “pill mills” in itsmost recent Vital Signs report.

It suggests other states could learn from Florida -- a reverse of what public health officials were saying five years ago, as  the Tampa Bay Times reports. Deaths from prescription drug overdoses have dropped 23 percent in the state.

From 2003 to 2009, drug overdose deaths in Florida increased 61 percent and an average of seven people died from prescription overdoses per day. At their peak, 98 of the 100 doctors who dispensed the highest quantity of oxycodone in the nation directly from their offices were in Florida. Buyers from other states, called “narco tourists”, came to Florida just to spend thousands on prescriptions.

However, beginning in 2010, the state set up a prescription-drug database that doctors and pharmacists could check before prescribing or filling prescriptions for narcotics, to make sure the patient was legitimate. Local and state police collaborated on clinic raids, and at least 250 were closed. Last year, none of the nation’s top 100 oxycodone prescribers were in Florida.

Since these changes, the CDC report indicates that the rate of prescription drug overdoses has fallen to its lowest level since 2007. The report said that deaths from oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone have all decreased, according to the Times.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.