New rule requires patient drug tests at Florida's pain clinics

October 4, 2010
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Clearwater, FL — Avee Laboratories, a leading national toxicology facility based in Clearwater, Florida, has established an information hotline (1-866-928-9877) for physicians practicing pain management, their patients, and members of the general public who have questions or would like to learn about the changes in Florida’s pain clinic laws taking effect October 1st, 2010.

“The new laws will help bring an end to Florida’s ‘pill mills’—clinics where unscrupulous doctors write out thousands of prescriptions for powerful pain medications daily for patients who have no legitimate medical need for them,” says Brian Slattery, media liaison and co-owner of Avee. “It’s a great cash business for those clinic owners.

Slattery says patients, some of whom fly in from neighboring states, very often opt to sell the drugs they’ve purchased at the pill mills. This practice, called diversion, is one of the main ways drugs like Oxycodone end up in the hands of addicts and recreational users.

“Statistics from wholesalers and the DEA show that up to eighty percent of all the Oxycodone sold in the United States is sold in Florida, so we know there’s a huge volume of prescription medications illegally changing hands on our streets,” says Slattery. “With nine hundred and thirty-two registered pain management clinics operating in the state, Florida could easily lay claim to the dubious title, ‘Pill Mill Capital of the Country’.”

Slattery says as of October 1st the new laws will require each pain management clinic to be owned by one or more licensed medical or osteopathic physicians, with a few exceptions. Each clinic must also have a “designated physician” who practices on site with an active and unrestricted license as a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine, and who has successfully completed an accredited pain medicine fellowship or accredited pain medicine residency.

While Slattery agrees the implementation of these and other new requirements will help legitimize the operations of Florida’s pain clinics, he says that it will be the implementation of drug testing in all state licensed pain clinics that will be the strongest tool for cutting into the state’s prescription drug black market.

“Drug testing allows the pain clinic physician to know whether the patient is taking the prescribed medication to manage his pain, or is doing something else with that medication,” says Slattery.

Regulations mandating periodic drug testing, already reflected in the newly proposed standards of practice rules for physicians practicing in pain management clinics, are under review and are expected to become part of the new law as early as November 1.

“The goal of this law is to weed out pill mills while protecting legitimate pain practices and making sure that people who have real pain can be treated,” says Slattery.

Slattery says last year deaths caused by Oxycodone increased by 25.9 percent in the state of Florida, and 5,275 Floridians died with one or more prescription drugs in their system.

“Drug testing and other changes in the operation of pain management clinics will play a key role in stopping the prescription drug death epidemic occurring both in our state and in our country,” says Slattery.