Since the early 1980s, Florida has noted an increase in the prescription and dispensation of drugs, and the establishment of pill mills, said Angela M. Hill, the Chair of Pharmacy Practice and a professor at the USF College of Pharmacy.
The New York Times reports that Florida, in 2010, dispensed 89 percent of the nation’s controlled drug prescriptions. Hill, said the reason for this trend is because people from other states troop to Florida for its cheaper street value of Schedule II drugs. And that many are willing to do anything to get their fix, even fake pain.
Lizette Alvarez of The New York Times, in an Aug. 31, 2011 article, reported that at its peak last year, Florida had more than 1,000 pain management clinics or “pill mills.”
“The concept of the pill mill is a pharmacy that is just dispensing a large quantity of medication, specifically controlled substances, inappropriately,” said Erini Serag, an assistant professor at the Department of Pharmacotherapeutics and Clinical Research.
“Pain management clinics started from a concern for alleviating pain in cancer patients. Now they fuel the circulation of Schedule II drugs, which could induce strong abuse or addiction to the drug yet have legitimate medical use as attractable street drugs,” Hill said.
Jose Borboza, an assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy said, “Florida is one of the few states that did not have a controlled substances database.”
However, in September, the state kicked off its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and now requires all health practitioners to make use of the PDMP database.
“Prior to the prescription drug monitoring program, a pharmacist would not be able to know if the patient had a history of using controlled substances. But now there is a registry set up where one has to report within seven days of dispensing to a patient,” Hill said.
Another curbing mechanism is pharmacy consultation. Serag said that consultation and counseling would make sure that patients are taking their medication appropriately and avoiding any drug inaction or abuse.