Florida-to-Appalachia ‘pill pipeline’ appears to be shriveling

Attorneys general from Florida and Kentucky say the prescription pill pipeline between the two states is beginning to close, reports Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader. They credit new programs and rules in Florida, but Kentucky AG Jack Conway says more work is needed “to attack the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky.” The pipeline has also supplied Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee.

Florida became the epicenter of the prescription drug trade to the Appalachian states because of lax regulation of pain clinics and tracking prescription drugs, Estep reports. People from the region traveled to Florida, stocked up on drugs, then returned home to sell them. In 2010, a police raid uncovered 1,400 files in a Florida doctor’s office, and most were on Eastern Kentuckians. Police estimated that 60 percent of pills illegally sold in Kentucky were prescribed in Florida.

Florida officials have increased monitoring of prescription pills, boosted enforcement, required pain clinics to register with the state, started a prescription monitoring system and barred many clinics from dispensing pills. The results have been significant, Florida AG Pam Bondi said at a substance-abuse conference in Lexington. In 2010, 98 of the top 100 oxycodone prescribers were in Florida; only 11 are now. Registered pain clinics in the state have dropped from 943 to 579. (Read more)

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