The Pain Clinic Epidemic

by J.S. Lucas Fleming

Pain clinics propose to offer medical assistance in relieving chronic pain. Given the fact that many people live with constant pain, this sounds like a valuable service.  

So why is State Attorney, Bernie McCabe, for Pinellas and Pasco Counties calling for tighter regulations on these kinds of clinics? Mr. McCabe stated, “We believe the physicians who prescribe these medications play a role in the prescription drug abuse and overdose epidemic that faces our community today.” According to Creative Loafing: News and Politics, Mr. McCabe went on to say that ads for pain clinics seem to be an easy access for pain narcotics and other drugs used to overdose. Getting opiates and other strong pain medications such as Vicodin, Oxycodone is easy if you go to a pain clinic.  

Allegedly, all a person has to do is make an appointment and complain of some type of pain and pain medications are automatically prescribed to the patient. (Creative Loafing). City Council located in Satellite Beach, Florida is trying to pass an ordinance that pain clinics have to provide police with daily reports of the prescriptions going out, the amount allowed to each patient, and a list of the states residency patients being treated. The clinics who fail to comply with these demands could lose their operating licenses.

Even though receiving pain medication from a doctor prescription is not illegal, the police want to make sure that patients are not taking advantage of the ease of going to these pain clinics. Police want the clinics to provide them with the names of patients in case some of them are recognized to be known drug addicts and overdose patients. (Florida Criminal Attorney Blog). Governor Charlie Christ signed the Senate bill 2272 Relating to Controlled Substances on June 4, 2010. This new law shall take effect October 1st, 2010. A copy of the entire content of this new law can be found by visiting www.flsenate.gov  Ch. 2010-211.

Under this new law clinics must follow these rules:  

  1. Annual Inspections: Clinics must register, be inspected annually, and name a doctor with a clean record as director.
  2. Strong Penalties: The state will be able to pull a clinic's registration and close it immediately for violations, including physician disciplines.
  3. Physician Exams: Unlike today, clinic doctors must examine a patient before prescribing pills.
  4. Only three-day supply of drugs: Clinics can sell a cash-&-carry patient only three days worth of pills at a time.
  5. Flagrant Advertising Banned: Clinics are banned from advertising pain drug sales and from using the names of drugs.

According to Florida Oxycotine Detox, “Florida Governor Charlie Christ signed new legislation last week that gives regulators some legal tools to crack down on Florida's rogue pain clinics.” The government is hoping that this new law will reduce the amount of opiates that reach the streets and make more people go to detox centers.

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