Tag Archives: oxycodone

Number of Oxycodone-Related Deaths Down in Florida

1 Indest-2008-1By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

It looks like Florida’s prescription drug legislation, the statewide prescription drug monitoring database and the prescription drug crackdowns by law enforcement may be working, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). The FDLE states in its semi-annual report, oxycodone-related deaths statewide dropped between January and June of 2012, compared to the same period of time in 2011. A look at the national numbers shows that the number of people abusing prescription drugs is also down.

Florida and National Numbers.

In the first half of 2012, there were 759 oxycodone-related deaths in Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel. That number is down from 1,058 during the same time period a year before. The Orlando Sentinel states that nationwide 7 million people abused prescription drugs in 2010. By 2011, that number had dropped to 6.1 million. Studies also show prescription drug use among young adults ages 18 to 25 is also on the decline. The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation Director believes these numbers are down because young people are realizing these drugs are dangerous and can be deadly.

Click here to read the entire article from the Orlando Sentinel.

Florida Cracks Down on Prescription Drug Abuse.

Previously, Florida was known as a state where drug addicts and dealers could easily find a pill mill or go doctor shopping to get prescription drugs. In the past two years, Florida state leaders and law enforcement officials have stepped up regulations and made serious crackdowns on doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies.

In April 2013, a Lake Mary doctor was sentenced to 25 years in prison for trafficking prescription drugs. Click here to read that story. In December 2012, a fake prescription drug ring was busted in Osceola County. To read that story, click here. In June 2012, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Florida law enforcement announced operation “Pill Street Blues” targeting doctors and clinic owners across Florida. Click here to read more.

Health Care Professional Must Stay Ahead of Patients with Chronic Pain.

Even though the number of people abusing prescription drugs is down, state regulatory boards, private certification boards and federal agencies are not going to ease up. Many physicians in practice today are eschewing multi-disciplinary approaches to treating chronic pain in favor of monotherapies with narcotic medications.

These physicians do this at their own peril. In our practice we see many physicians in trouble with state medical boards and law enforcement officials because of their prescribing practices. If you treat patients with chronic pain it is imperative that you stay ahead of them. Click here to read a blog on legal tips for health care professionals to manage pain patients.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, pain management doctors, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Do you think the new legislation, the state prescription drug monitoring database and the crackdowns by law enforcement are making a difference in the war against prescription drugs? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Pavuk, Amy. “‘We Can Stop This Epidemic,’ CDC Boss Says at Rx-Drug Abuse Summit in Orlando.” Orlando Sentinel. (April 2, 2013). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-prescription-drug-abuse-summit-20130402,0,4693169.story

Pavuk, Amy. “Drug-Related Deaths Plunge in First Half of 2012.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 25, 2013). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-drug-deaths-down-20130325,0,6750345.story

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.

Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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South Florida Painkiller Network Newest Target in String of Florida Pill Mill Raids

Another South Florida pill mill was busted by federal agents this month, adding to Florida’s increasingly negative reputation as one of the worst drug trafficking states.

According to the Miami Herald, 24 people were indicted on charges of defrauding Medicare while distributing oxycodone and oxymorphone across Miami-Dade and Broward counties. These healthcare providers were involved in a distribution network allegedly worth $40 million.

Five pain management clinics in Miami, Hialeah and Plantation served as fronts for the fraud. A physician wrote prescriptions for oxycodone and oxymorphone to beneficiaries of Medicare and other prescription-drug insurance plans at these five clinics. Allegedly, these beneficiary patients were involved in the clinics’ scheme. The patients would then fill the prescriptions at certain pharmacies throughout Miami that were also involved in the network. When the prescriptions were filled, the pharmacy owners would bill Medicare, knowing that the drugs were unnecessary for the patients.

This bust follows a string of other DEA, DOH, and FDLE raids in Florida, including one in August. According to the Miami Herald, August’s Operation Oxy Alley involved pill mills being targeted as organized-crime for the first time. The country’s four largest pain clinics (located in Palm Beach and Broward Counties) were targeted, resulting in the arrest of 32 individuals, including 13 doctors.

Operation Pill Nation, the predecessor to Operation Oxy Alley, targeted pain management clinics in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. An effort to crackdown on Florida pill mills and drug trafficking perpetuated by medical clinics and doctors, Operation Pill Nation and similar investigations have resulted in the shutting down of clinics throughout South Florida according to the Palm Beach Post.

South Florida is not the only region where pill mills are running rampant. The entire state of Florida has been pegged by the DEA as one of the worst in terms of drug trafficking and about 85 percent of all oxycodone sold comes from Florida. Pain management clinics, pharmacies, pharmacists and doctors in Jacksonville, Melbourne, Mount Dora, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach have been busted by Florida and federal agencies (DEA, DOH, FDLE) for unlawfully dispensing powerful narcotics, like oxycodone, to any patient that came in the door. In one instance, buyers of highly addictive oxycodone and Xanax, came all the way from Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee to get their fix at a Jacksonville pill mill.

The DEA and other federal and state agencies carry out relentless investigations in order to bust these clinics and doctors. Acting as patients, they may bribe a receptionist in order to immediately see a doctor, and then present unrelated symptoms in order to get a narcotics prescription. Drug companies also become involved in targeting pill mills, as they report any clinic or physician who orders narcotics in large quanities (like this Florida doctor who prescribed over 250,000 oxycodone pills in eight months).

Although the crackdown on pill mills and drug trafficking in Florida has eliminated many illegitimate practices, there have been serious consequences for any patient with real pain. Physicians are wary of writing any painkiller prescription, even for a patient whose pain warrants a stronger prescription.

If you are a pharmacist or physician dealing with pain management in Florida, be aware of the recent raids and learn more about what you can do to prevent the DEA, DOH, FDLE or local police from knocking on your door. Visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or read this article on the DEA‘s involvement in the healthcare field for more information.

Florida Doctor Arrested for Drug Sales and Other Criminal Charges

Drug trafficking charges against a medical doctor are not a new concept, especially in Florida. Recent pill mill busts throughout the state have resulted in an omnipresent DEA, always on the lookout for illegal drug sales by pharmacies, pharmacists, pain management clinics and physicians. However, the recent arrest of a Central Florida doctor extends beyond the run of the mill “pill mill” bust, as the accusations in this case involve sex with a minor and delivering a controlled substance to a minor.

According to Florida Today, this Central Florida doctor was arrested Tuesday following a raid by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This is his second arrest after he was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in August.

Tuesday’s arrest resulted from evidence of the doctor’s sexual relationship with a high school student. The doctor was arrested in 2009 after being caught during a traffic stop with bags of marijuana in his car and allegedly having a sexual relationship with the 16-year-old passenger. Although charges were not filed after the girl recanted her evidence and claimed the marijuana was hers, that didn’t put an end to a steady stream of younger girls going into the clinic. According to residents of the area surrounding the clinic, girls were frequently seen going to see the doctor dressed in revealing attire. Aside from teenage patients, residents reported often seeing a line out to the street for people waiting to get into the clinic, a possible indicator of drug trafficking.

Although his medical license has been suspended, this Florida doctor has yet to receive broader drug trafficking charges, despite his huge prescription distribution numbers. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, this doctor prescribed 250,000 oxycodone pills in the first eight months of 2011. Compared to the entire state of California, which had 300,000 oxycodone prescriptions in the last six months of 2010, it is evident that this Florida doctor had a major painkiller operation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is calling him one of the worst offenders in the state of Florida. Upon further investigation, this doctor and anyone who may have assisted him in the drug trafficking of oxycodone may be charged for this offense.

While the possibility of drug trafficking charges is enough to scare any physician, other criminal charges can be equally damaging, especially depending on how the accused individuals plea to the charges. A health professional’s plea of nolo contendere, which may seem like the safe route, is actually treated the same as a plea of guilty for all purposes. There are ways to defend criminal charges (like the ones against the aforementioned Florida doctor) that can result in a more favorable outcome (e.g., attempting to obtain pre-trial diversion, pre-trial intervention or drug court), but legal advice should be sought from an attorney who frequently represents health care providers before any actions are pursued. To learn more about criminal charges against doctors and other health professionals see this recent post or visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.