Florida prescription drug crackdown comes at a heavy cost

Drug crackdowns concerning prescription medications have certainly cut the flow of pills into Florida, but sometimes at the expense of patients with a real need.

Florida has long had a reputation as a national epicenter of prescription pain drugs. According to a report from The Tampa Tribune, in 2010, 650 million oxycodone pills were shipped to Florida – 34 for every Florida resident – and 93 of the top 100 physicians dispensing oxycodone in America called Florida home. By 2011, Florida had a whopping 856 pain clinics.

However, early 2011 also saw a paradigm shift in how laws against prescription drug abuse were enforced in Florida. In an aggressive law enforcement campaign, officers throughout the state began using tactics and laws typically geared toward street drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine to combat pain pills.

Doctors who overprescribed were arrested, and pain clinics were raided. Soon, the Florida legislature passed several new laws targeting prescription drug misuse. In just three years, the number of oxycodone pills being shipped to Florida was halved and the number of pain clinics had dropped to 367, according to DEA data.

But in their zeal to eradicate the perception of an out-of-control prescription drug problem, did Florida cops and prosecutors go too far? There have been unintended consequences to the Florida prescription drug crackdown, including the resurgence of heroin, which provides similar effects to oxycodone but at a street price that has fallen far below that of oxycodone. Now, Florida doctors are reporting a new problem that has arisen in the wake of the prescription pill crackdown involving the treatment process for patients with a legitimate medical need for prescription painkillers.

Doctors and patients having trouble getting necessary pills

While hard data on the problem has been difficult to come by, reports have trickled in from doctors throughout the state that the pendulum has swung too far on the prescription painkiller issue. Doctors are increasingly seeing pharmacies questioning their prescriptions, calling for unnecessary documentation and second-guessing treatment decisions.

The problem has become so pronounced that last summer, the American Medical Association adopted a policy saying “a pharmacist who makes inappropriate queries on a physician’s rationale behind a prescription, diagnosis or treatment plan is interfering with the practice of medicine.”

For patients who are in need of pain medications, including those suffering from various cancers, getting the pills they need has become an ordeal. Sometimes, it is even an impossibility, or has legal ramifications.

Some pharmacies say they do not have oxycodone or related medication on their shelves. Others refuse patients service based on a patchwork of store policies implemented to come into compliance with new laws and avoid risking hefty penalties. Numerous patients have reported bouncing from one pharmacy to another in search of the pills they need, only to be accused of pharmacy shopping. Furthermore, some patients have stopped taking the pills they need due to the misguided social perception created by the crackdown that pain pills are inherently a bad thing.

Get legal help if you are charged with a drug crime

If you have been accused of committing a drug offense, it is always a serious matter. The penalties for possession or distribution of a controlled substance that can be obtained under a valid prescription can be just as harsh – in some cases, even more so – than those for street drugs like cocaine or marijuana.

There are many ways to potentially challenge drug charges. But to take advantage of them, you will need legal help. An experienced Florida drug crime defense attorney can be both your advocate and your advisor in your efforts to defeat drug charges. Contact a defense attorney today if you are facing charges for a drug crime.

Keywords: drug, Florida, prescription

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