States Continue to Crack Down on Prescription Drug “Tourists”

The illegal prescription drug trade has moved a little but is still operating on high. According to the San Francisco Gate, states across the country and still particularly in the Southeastern region are struggling to keep ahead of the fast moving trade.

Florida once reigned supreme as the pill mill capital of the country. People would travel from all over to pick up piles of heavy duty painkillers, return home, and sell them at incredible mark-ups to addicts. But Florida has at least somewhat stifled the flow of drugs by clamping down on pill mills. Now, states like Georgia have moved up in the ranks.

These pill mills still operate in the same manner, doling out prescriptions for strong opiate drugs based on quick and shoddy diagnoses. The recipient of the prescription takes the drugs to his home state where they are greeted by addicts willing to pay as much as $100 per pill.

The problem lies in the pill mills. Many of them have little regulation and the people signing the prescriptions have their own financial goals in mind. The more patients they see, the more money they make. So a few quick questions about your pain severity is all they ask before giving you a prescription that might as well be written in gold.

Some states have started tracking the prescriptions, by having pharmacists enter who gets what and when, looking for patterns that would raise red flags like frequent refills and larger-than-normal dosages.

While lawmakers and law enforcement are trying to combat the trade, it’s difficult since databases and similar tracking programs cost serious cash. Florida’s crackdown, which started with the 2011 enactment of tough laws against unscrupulous doctors and clinics, has largely been successful, though some doctors think the state has gone too far.

“We’re dealing with a war on legitimate medications that’s being dealt with like we’re all cartels and drug lords,” said one pain clinic manager. And he’s right. People who legitimately need these medications for injuries or chronic pain shouldn’t be made to feel like addicts and shouldn’t find it more difficult to get their own medicine.

The laws vary widely from state to state on these drugs. How you are penalized for being caught with prescription drugs that aren’t yours depends on a variety of factors including how you got them, what they are, and your criminal history, just to name a few.


About David Matson

David writes about criminal justice issues.
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