The federal government is targeting painkiller abuse in its latest efforts to combat drug crime in America. Federal drug trafficking officials have identified Florida as the top supplier in the nation. State officials are also stepping up their efforts to combat the so-called “pill mills.”

The strategy outlined by the Obama administration is aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse by 15 percent. Law enforcement intends to aggressively pursue criminal investigations to put a stop to irresponsible drug prescribing. The efforts align with recent efforts by Florida officials to catch and prosecute those who obtain painkillers illegally.

Florida will likely be the site of many of these investigations. South Florida is known to play host to many pain clinics which authorities claim are responsible for many of the improper painkiller prescriptions. In the first half of 2010, for example, orders for oxycodone in Florida outpaced all other states combined by a significant margin. Drug traffickers are thought to use Florida clinics to obtain large supplies of pills and then ship them to neighboring states.

Going forward, medical professionals could be subjected to strict guidelines regarding prescription drug monitoring and the situations in which a prescription can be given lawfully. Doctors may be required to complete further education specifically targeting the prescription of painkillers. Additional efforts will be aimed at educating the public about the dangers of prescription pill abuse and creating painkillers that are not as prone to abuse.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, “Plan for tackling pain killer abuse puts focus on Florida as No. 1 pill supplier,” Michael Laforgia, 19 April 2011

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