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The Pill Mill Epidemic

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What it is – How it works?

michelle

[By Michelle Peterman]

miche.peterman@gmail.com

People who are getting access to prescription medication illegally are on the rise, thanks to what the government and drug addiction specialists call “Pill Mills.”

The United States has a significant enough problem with people addicted to illegal substances, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines.

What Is A Pill Mill?

You may be asking yourself, “What’s A Pill Mill?” All over the US there are legitimate doctors and pain management centers that are in place to assist patients with managing pain. These centers take great care to make sure patients do not become addicted to their medications and will provide assistance if they do.

Unfortunately, there are pain management centers that operate as these “Pill Mills” and are glorified drug dealers. These people are as bad as the drug suppliers and traffickers who sell Heroin or Ice on the streets. Pill Mills will often have a walk in appointment policy, minimum record keeping methods, and armed guards. Other signs include accepting cash-only, no physical exams, and supplying patients with doses of narcotics that are over the authorized limits.

Many people who are legally prescribed medication may start self-medicating and become addicted, needing more and more drugs. These same individuals often turn to pill mills to gain access to prescriptions that more ethical doctors would not give them.

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pill mill

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Pill Mill Issues in Florida

It has been said that Florida is the epicenter of the pill mill industry. In 2010, as many as seven people were dying every day as a result of a prescription medication overdose in the State of Florida, and countless other deaths were occurring throughout The States. Authorities believed that Florida had become a haven for drug abusers and distributors to make huge profits in dispensing narcotics illegally.

In 2011, government took action and many pain management centers, medical practices, and clinics were raided. This happened in South Florida with the intention to crack down on the many “pill mills” that the authorities strongly suspected were prescribing Oxycodone in extremely high doses outside of controlled substance authority guidelines.

The authorities also found during their investigation that patients were recruited via the Internet. Six clinic owners and various other staff were indicted on charges that they conspired together to illegally supply patients with over 660,000 high and illegal doses of Oxycodone and collected over $22 million in profits.

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pill mill

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The DEA Wages War Against Pill Mills in the South

In 2010, Florida had over nine hundred registered pain management centers. As of January 2014, that number dropped to around three hundred and fifty clinics.

However, it seems that Georgia is now dealing with many of those businesses that fled Florida after stricter measures were implemented. Huffington Post reports that “The DEA is prosecuting pain clinic operators who used to do business in Florida and picked up and moved to Georgia immediately after Florida passed tougher restrictions in 2011.”

Moreover, just recently, Drug Enforcement Administration Raids ‘Pill Mills’ in Four Southern States, including Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Assessment

Prescription drug abuse has been declared a massive epidemic in the United States and yet another fight the authorities are trying to win. Tougher regulations and crackdowns from the DEA seem to be making a dent in this major issue.

More:

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ABOUT

Michelle is a former communications associate who transitioned into building her own freelance business. She enjoys health and staying on top of the latest news.  Sitting by the beach is one of her favorite activities in her free time.

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Why President Nixon Signed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970

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The DEA History

[By Staff Reporters]

Doctors prescribe harmful and potentially addictive drugs, and they all hold a DEA license to do so.

But, did you know that one of the foundations upon which the Drug Enforcement Administration was created is the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)? It was signed into law as part of a broader set of laws called The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

The CSA

As all doctors and nurses know, the CSA created five schedules for controlled substances ranging from Schedule I, the most restrictive classification to Schedule V, the least so.

Schedule I drugs have a 1) High potential for abuse 2) No currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and c) Lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

Medicare and Medicaid drug capsules

Definition of Controlled Substance Schedules

An updated and complete list  of the schedules is published annually in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations  (C.F.R.) §§ 1308.11 through 1308.15.

Substances are placed in their respective schedules based on whether  they have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,  their relative abuse potential, and likelihood of causing dependence when  abused.  Some examples of the drugs in  each schedule are listed below.

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted  medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under  medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.

Some examples of substances listed in Schedule I are:  heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote,  methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“Ecstasy”).

Schedule II Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse  which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Examples of Schedule II narcotics include: hydromorphone  (Dilaudid®), methadone (Dolophine®), meperidine (Demerol®), oxycodone  (OxyContin®, Percocet®), and fentanyl (Sublimaze®, Duragesic®).  Other Schedule II narcotics include:  morphine, opium, and codeine.

Examples of Schedule II stimulants include: amphetamine  (Dexedrine®, Adderall®), methamphetamine (Desoxyn®), and methylphenidate  (Ritalin®).

Other Schedule II substances include: amobarbital,  glutethimide, and pentobarbital.

Schedule III Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a potential for abuse less  than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low  physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Examples of  Schedule III narcotics include: combination products containing less than 15  milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin®), products containing not  more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with Codeine®), and  buprenorphine (Suboxone®).

Examples of Schedule III non-narcotics include:  benzphetamine (Didrex®), phendimetrazine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids such  as Depo®-Testosterone.

Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse  relative to substances in Schedule III.

Examples of Schedule IV substances include: alprazolam  (Xanax®), carisoprodol (Soma®), clonazepam (Klonopin®), clorazepate  (Tranxene®), diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), midazolam (Versed®),  temazepam (Restoril®), and triazolam (Halcion®).

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse  relative to substances listed in Schedule IV and consist primarily of  preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics.

Examples of Schedule V substances include: cough  preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100  milliliters or per 100 grams (Robitussin AC®, Phenergan with Codeine®), and  ezogabine.

The Nixon Connection

CSA as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on October 27, 1970.

RMN

[President Nixon Signs the Controlled Substances Act] 

Assessment

This picture was taken on that day at the White House. Behind the president is Attorney General John Mitchell and next to the president is BNDD Director Jack Ingersoll.

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About Drug Use and Abuse in America

The United States of Drug Addicts?

By Muhammad Saleem with ME-P Staff Reporters
http://muhammadsaleem.com
msaleem@gmail.com

Example 1:

Georgia meth seizure near US record
[Augusta Chronicle 12/01/2010]

Gwinnett County police seized nearly half a ton of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $44.6 million from a home in Norcross, one of the biggest meth seizures ever made in the United States.

Police raided a house off  Beaver Ruin Road between Interstate 85 and Buford Highway late Monday after authorities got a report that a large amount of meth was being produced there.

Officers found 150 pounds of crystal methamphetamine ready for sale and 200 gallons of liquid methamphetamine oil in a large drug lab.

Gwinnett County police called in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and a fire department hazmats team because of the size of the drug lab.

“This would feed hundreds and hundreds of addicts and destroy who knows how many lives, countless lives,” said Rodney Benson of the DEA field office in Atlanta. No one was in the home at the time of the raid, police said.

Authorities said they suspect a Mexican-based drug trafficking organization in the drug-making operation, but added investigators have not determined what group was responsible.

Police arrested 33-year-old Jose Galvez-Vela of Weslaco, Texas, and charged him with trafficking in meth. Police didn’t say exactly where he was arrested and didn’t know if he had a lawyer. Authorities said they are seeking others following the raid in Norcross, in the Northern Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County.

The discovery underscored a growing trend of Mexican drug trafficking organizations smuggling liquid meth into the United States to be converted into a crystal form for sale, Benson said. The liquid can be converted to crystal form within 48 hours, he said.

Investigators in hazmats suits cautiously removed the meth and flammable drug-making chemicals from the house Monday. It didn’t appear that anyone was living in the house and that it was used strictly for manufacturing meth, police said. The house was “really a powder keg, ready to blow at any time,” Benson said. “Clearly removing that threat from that house is clearly making that neighborhood much safer today.”

The house is set in a quiet, low-to middle-income subdivision, Gwinnett police Cpl. Edwin Ritter said.

Example 2:

Georgia police seize meth worth $44.6M from house
[Los Angeles Times 12/01/2010]

NORCROSS, Ga. (AP) — Investigators have seized hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $44.6 million in suburban Atlanta, one of the biggest meth seizures in the country, authorities said Tuesday. Investigators said the raid was conducted late Monday at a house in Norcross, just north of Atlanta, after authorities were told a large amount of meth was being produced there. They reported finding 150 pounds of crystal methamphetamine ready for sale and 200 gallons of liquid methamphetamine oil in a large drug lab.

“This would feed hundreds and hundreds of addicts and destroy who knows how many lives, countless lives,” said Rodney Benson with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s field office in Atlanta.

No one was in the home at the time of the raid, police said. Authorities said they suspect a Mexican-based drug trafficking organization in the drug making operation, but added investigators have not determined what group was responsible.

Investigators said they arrested 33-year-old Jose Galvez-Vela of Weslaco, Texas, and charged him with trafficking in meth. Police didn’t say exactly where he was arrested and didn’t know if he had a lawyer. Authorities said they are seeking others following the raid in Norcross, in the northern Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County.

The discovery underscored a growing trend of Mexican drug trafficking organizations smuggling methamphetamine in liquid form across the border with the United States to be converted into a crystal form for sale, Benson said. The liquid can be converted to crystal form within 48 hours, he added. Investigators in hazmat suits used extreme caution as they removed the meth and highly flammable drugmaking chemicals from the house. It didn’t appear that anyone was living in the house and that it was used strictly for manufacturing meth, police said.

The house was “really a powder keg, ready to blow at any time,” Benson said. “Clearly removing that threat from that house is clearly making that neighborhood much safer today.”

The house is set in a quiet, low-to middle-income subdivision, Gwinnett police Cpl. Edwin Ritter said. Benson said the lab’s location was typical of Mexican drug organizations known to operate sophisticated networks from nondescript houses in suburban Atlanta for distribution along the East Coast.

Investigators said they were following several leads to others allegedly involved but declined further comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

Citing the size of the drug lab and the hazardous chemicals involved, police said they requested help from the DEA and a hazardous materials team with a local fire department.

Editor’s Note

Although Georgia is the home of the ME-P, these Georgia State examples were purely coincidental.

Source: http://www.criminaljusticeusa.com

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Settlement Reached with Temple University Health System

Diversion of Controlled Substances

By Anonymous

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NOV 01, 2010 — PHILADELPHIA – The Temple University Health System (“TUHS”), today, agreed to pay $130,000 to the U.S. government for failing to keep proper receiving, dispensing and inventory records of controlled substances, and failing to take effective precautions to prevent theft or loss of controlled substances, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. In addition, TUHS agreed to implement a detailed Compliance Assessment Plan to review and monitor its policies and procedures relating to controlled substances.

“Hospitals must have effective controls to prevent and detect drug diversion, in order to
prevent people from suffering significant physical harm, addiction or death when they use controlled substances without appropriate supervision from their doctor”,
Memeger said.

Back to 2004

In 2004, Temple University Hospital’s lack of control over controlled substances allowed its then chief resident of anesthesiology to steal 107 vials of Ketamine and smaller amounts of Fentanyl, Midazolam and Morphine. The resident doctor, who attempted to sell the drugs to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operative was charged and convicted. In addition, from January 2007 to February 2007, an anesthesiologist at Jeanes Hospital, a Temple University Health Systems facility, manipulated the computerized controlled substance distribution system to extract 35 vials of Fentanyl and five vials of Morphine for his own personal use. DEA Special Agent in Charge John J. Bryfonski stated:

“The public expects our health professionals to honor their oath and follow both regulations and the law to assure the health and safety of the people they treat. When these professionals depart from their oath and the law by diverting controlled substance-pharmaceuticals from legitimate medical uses to illegal uses, DEA will investigate and hold them accountable.”

The DEA Audits

Following these thefts, DEA audited five Temple University Health Systems facilities and found that the hospital failed to keep dispensing records for certain controlled substances; failed to note on the required DEA form the number of packages of controlled substances the pharmacy received and the date it received them; failed to verify the amount of controlled substances coming into the pharmacy on each invoice; and kept inaccurate inventory of certain controlled substances.

Stricter Future Controls

TUHS voluntarily initiated changes to their drug dispensing system, to provide stricter measures for accessing the medication and frequent counts of the facilities’ inventory. In addition to the monetary settlement, TUHS agreed to implement an innovative Compliance Assessment Plan whereby an independent consultant will survey the Temple facilities and recommend remedial changes as necessary. The agreement requires TUHS to report to DEA discrepancies revealed during these audits.

Assessment

This resolution is part of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s Special Focus team Health Care Fraud initiative. The case was investigated by DEA Philadelphia Division Diversion Group. The case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Susan R. Becker, Auditor Allison Barnes and Healthcare Fraud Consultant Ray Uhlhorn.

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