Crackdown continues on Fla. pill mills

Governor, attorney general talk about results

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Donna Di-ley is finally feeling a sense of security after a nearby pill mill closed down.

"We're glad, we're really glad because it is a problem, and it helps us for our neighborhoods to be safe," Di-ley said of the closure.

For months, she watched truckloads of strangers pick up fake prescriptions across the street.

It's a problem the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said is picking up at so-called "pain clinics" across the region.

"We're absolutely seeing more and more arrests, more pill mills being busted," JSO spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said.

The state of Florida, which has called the issue a public health crisis, jump-started a year-long effort to fight prescription drug abuse.

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott teamed up with Attorney General Pam Bondi to highlight the results of the pill mill strike force so far.

They said in the past year, more than 2,000 arrests have been made, including 34 doctors, and more than a half-million pills seized.

"Florida was the place for criminals to get pills. It's not that place anymore," Scott said.

Statistically, the number of doctors writing illegal prescriptions is down, but some hospitals say the medical affect in northeast Florida remains unseen.

"Not yet, but I don't think we would yet, as far as the medical consequences of it," Dr. Joe Spillane, of Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, said of the effects. "I think what we'll see is a decrease in diversion, and that will be followed by a decrease in medical consequences, but that will take time."

Spillane remains concerned about the popularity of dangerous pills like hydrocodone. He said even if the pills are off the streets, addicts may turn to other drugs.

"There's a chance that we may see an increase in heroine abuse because heroine has very similar effects to these prescription opiates, and that could be an issue in the years to come," Spillane said.

To fight the epidemic, the state plans to continue to crackdown, ensuring Florida is no longer referred to as the "oxy express."

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