A new Florida law that tightens regulations on narcotics prescriptions is the latest in multiple states' efforts to eliminate so-called pill mills. The move comes amid increasing crackdowns by federal law enforcement officials on prescription drug use for non-medical purposes.
USA Today reports that, in recent years, the use of prescription drugs like oxycodone over street drugs like ecstasy has increased significantly. Because Florida has had relatively loose restrictions on when and how narcotics can be prescribed, it has become a popular state for "drug tourists" seeking painkillers for themselves or to sell to others. Florida visitors and residents have obtained narcotics prescriptions from doctors and clinics that handed out large prescription amounts without much scrutiny.
However, a new law and state database aims to reduce the availability and distribution of black-market prescription drugs in Florida as well as other states. On September 1, 2011, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a law, which establishes a state database that records narcotics prescriptions so a patient's painkiller history is available to a doctor before he or she gives the patient another prescription. The database is also available for linking with databases in other states.
In addition to creating the database, the law reduced the length of time pharmacists have to report narcotics prescription information from 15 days to seven. It also requires patients to fill their narcotics prescriptions at pharmacies instead of receiving dispensations at a doctor's office.
Law enforcement officials plan to use the database to investigate potential pill mills. According to USA Today, local police have announced plans to work with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to conduct raids to break up pill mill distribution networks.
These raids could result in criminal drug charges against doctors and patients if police find suspicious evidence. Importantly, though, the raids must be carried out properly for any evidence gathered in them to be used in criminal prosecutions.
Anyone targeted or arrested in these raids or accused of charged with possession of a controlled substance would be wise to get experienced criminal defense representation to enforce their constitutional rights and protect their interests.