Two Florida brothers have been charged and convicted of crimes related to running pain clinics in South Florida. Authorities began to take notice of their activities when some of the clients died from overdoses and one accident occurred involving a Toyota and a train traveling over 70 mph, leaving three people dead. Roxicodone, a prescription painkiller, was found on the backseat of the car and outside sprinkled on the ground, on both sides of the car’s remains.
Oxycodone abuse has reached epidemic proportions. The addictions and deaths resulting from this abuse have become a public health problem, if not a crisis. Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske has called Florida ground zero for this substance abuse problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 93% of unintentional poisonings in 2007 were from drug overdoses. Florida experienced an increase of 325% in the number of non-suicidal poisonings resulting in death from 1990 to 2001. In the last five years, Florida has experienced a boom in the growth of pain clinics dispensing oxycodone and alprazolam. From 2003 to 2009 there were over 16,000 drug overdose deaths in Florida. About one third of them were related to illicit drugs. Nearly 86 percent were unintentional. About eleven percent were suicides.
Given the alarming and disturbing loss of life associated with prescription medication abuse, it is especially shocking that one “pill mill” pain clinic in Florida was 20,000 square feet in size with doctors able to see five hundred “patients” daily. The two brothers mentioned above, as the main operators of several pain clinics, were associated with the trafficking of about 20 million doses of oxycodone. That number of doses was dispensed in just three years. About 53 deaths are thought to have resulted from overdoses from their drugs, and those were just the ones in Florida. Because about 80 to 90 percent of the total number of overdose deaths is thought to have taken place in other states such as Kentucky and Tennessee, the death total is likely to be much higher.
Shutting down the two brothers and their robust prescription drug business has been a real blow to the national pill mill industry. Authorities learned better surveillance and documentation techniques, improving their effectiveness. These endeavors can help authorities crack down even further, to help reduce the the country’s large number of prescription drug fatalities.
Robert Joyce is a Tampa pill mill litigation attorney at Joyce & Reyes Law Firm. To learn more about the Tampa pill mill litigation lawyer, visit http://www.joyceandreyespa.com/ or call 1.888.771.1529.