All But Two States Have Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs Enacted

According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use, about 7 million people in the United States use prescription drugs for non-medicinal purposes. It’s been called a national epidemic and though states have responded en masse, passing new laws to combat the problem, those involved in the prescription drug trade have stayed one step ahead of officials.

Missouri and New Hampshire are the only two states who have yet to enact laws establishing prescription drug monitoring programs. These programs allow doctors and pharmacists to track who is prescribed what in an effort to ensure no one is working the system to get multiple prescriptions at once.

Kentucky and Ohio are the first states to link their systems, tracking people as they move between the two states. This could be the future of the other programs, as traffickers and addicts alike are known for traveling between states to obtain and resell the drugs.

Called this “drug tourism”, moving from state to state, exploiting loopholes or vulnerabilities in state laws to obtain massive amounts of pills is something the DEA is just beginning to get a handle on, or at the very least take notice of. In this USA Today report, one man admits to traveling to Florida several times a week to collect prescriptions from lax pain clinics. He then travels back to Connecticut with as much as 8,000 pain pills, bribing airline security and police along the way.

Florida’s been largely seen as the “epicenter” of the problem. Their prescription monitoring laws weren’t passed until recently and in 2010, it was estimated that among the 53 million oxycodone pills sold in the United States, 45 million came from Florida. Rogue clinics, where very little actual medical treatment took place, made it easy for addicts and traffickers to obtain the drugs they needed with little actual effort. Now Florida is hoping their tougher laws will change that.

But now that Florida is squeezing the pill mills out, officials are scared that they will begin popping up elsewhere. Georgia is said to be experiencing a growth in them and officials think New England will be next.

Prescription drug addiction is a difficult obstacle, both for officials trying to control the illegal flow of drugs and for the addicts who struggle to feed their insatiable habit. Sometimes an arrest and a possession charge give such people the opportunity to get help when they would otherwise be forced to handle it on their own.

Most states have drug courts and some have other alternatives available for addicts who are caught up in the criminal justice system. If you’ve been charged with possession of oxycodone or another prescription drug, let us put you in contact with a local criminal defense attorney today.

About David Matson

David writes about criminal justice issues.
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