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Pill Mills Migrate North To Georgia

Mouse, Flickr

Florida's war on so-called "pill mill" pain clinics  appears to be pushing the problem into Georgia.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2010, there were just 10 pain clinics in the state of Georgia. Today, there are more than 125 clinics  and the state's per capita prescriptions of oxycodone has tripled in the last decade.

Prescription pain killers have become a national drug epidemic in the last few years. The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2008 prescription pain killers were involved in three of every four overdose deaths. The Journal cites White House statistics that say 16,500 people die in the U.S. each year from opioid painkillers, "more than from heroin and cocaine combined," the WSJ writes.
In the last two years, Florida has been cracking down on pain clinics that indiscriminately prescribe medications like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet. By creating statewide strike forces and anti-pill-mill legislation, the state has cut the number of pain clinics in half - from around 900 in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, to barely 400 in the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
The WSJ writes: 

In contrast, Georgia failed to vote this year on a proposed law requiring pain clinics to be owned by medical professionals. It has no law that empowers the state's medical board to close shady operators and suspend the licenses of unscrupulous doctors. The Peach State also lacks a database that tracks the number of prescriptions each clinic writes, though it plans one for next spring. Georgia has only five police detectives solely pursuing prescription-drug cases statewide. By comparison, Broward County, Fla., has eight to itself.

The Journal has some nice visuals on Florida's drop in pill mills and prescription drug related deaths. Among the interesting observations is that Florida now has more prescription drug laws on its books than any other state. Georgia has among the fewest.