Pill Mill Problem in Florida
Owning some of South Florida’s busiest pill mills was lucrative work and nothing held him back, Christopher George told a jury on Tuesday — not his complete lack of experience in the health care industry or even his criminal history as a convicted felon.
“It brought in probably $40 million,” George said of the profits from the so-called pain management business in Broward and Palm Beach counties that he ran for three years.
But there were hassles too and the main one was obvious to jurors as George — the star witness against two doctors accused of overprescribing pain pills and helping to cause the deaths of nine patients — testified Tuesday in federal court in West Palm Beach. The 32-year-old former Wellington man was handcuffed, shackled and is serving 17 1/2 years in federal prison for his role in the alleged conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors hope George’s testimony will convince the jury that doctors Cynthia Cadet, 43, of Parkland, and Joseph Castronuovo, 74, of Key Largo, should be held criminally liable for the patient deaths and a host of related charges.
The physicians have pleaded not guilty and insist they provided legitimate medical care. Source
What are Pill Mills?
A “pill mill” is a doctor’s office, clinic, or health care facility that routinely conspires in the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances outside the scope of the prevailing standards of medical practice in the community or violates the laws of the state of Florida regarding the prescribing or dispensing of controlled prescription drugs.
Florida leads the nation in diverted prescription drugs, resulting in seven Floridians dying every day and countless others throughout the nation. Our state has become the destination for distributors and abusers through the proliferation of pill mills.
While legitimate pain-management clinics do exist to serve those with chronic pain or terminal illness, other unscrupulous clinics, called pill mills, merely serve as drug traffickers. Common characteristics of pill mills include: cash-only/no insurance; no appointments; armed guards; little or no medical records; grossly inadequate physical examinations; and large prescription doses of narcotics that exceed the boundaries of acceptable medical care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared prescription drug abuse an epidemic in America.
Florida is the epicenter of prescription drug diversion because – until recently – our state had weak regulatory oversight of pain management practices, limited oversight of physician dispensing habits, and no statewide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).
In Florida, pharmaceutical drug diversion means an average of more than seven dead a day to prescription drug overdose.
As of February 2012, there were 580 registered pain management clinics in Florida, down from more than 900 the year prior.
Florida’s dubious distinction as the ‘epicenter’ of the nation’s ‘pill mill’ epidemic was solidified in 2010 when DEA’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS) reported that 90 of the top 100 oxycodone purchasing physicians in the nation were located in Florida.
When alcohol is excluded, prescription drugs accounted for 81% of all drug occurrences in Florida’s 2010 Medical Examiner’s Report. Source
DEA Launches Pill-Mill Tip Line
In response to Florida’s ongoing prescription-drug abuse problems, the Drug Enforcement Administration has launched a pill-mill tip line. Law-enforcement officers throughout the state continue to investigate rogue doctors who dole out powerful, addictive drugs to people who don’t have a true, medical need for the pills.
The DEA said Monday that undercover law-enforcement officers have made hundreds of purchases of prescription drugs from such doctors in South Florida over the last year.
DEA’s 24-hour tip line is 888-954-4662. Tips can also be sent to Florida.Pill.Mill.Tips@USDOJ.GOV.
West Palm Beach Drug Charges Attorney
Many drug crimes in Florida are subject to mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least three years. Even if you are not facing prison time, the arrest can have a profound effect on both you and your family. At the law firm of Andrew D. Stine, P.A., in West Palm Beach, we will take a proactive approach in defending you.
Many drug cases can be resolved if your lawyer has you immediately perform community service and complete a short drug class, as it is essential that the state’s charging attorney understands what type of person you really are. Such actions also provide evidence that shows you are much more than what the law enforcement agent makes you out to be. By being proactive, we can often get a withhold of adjudication, which would preserve your driver’s license and keep you from having a criminal record.
If you face serious drug charges, lawyer Andrew Stine is experienced in attacking the government’s case against you. Drug cases often involve a confidential informant, who is usually another person who has been arrested on drug charges. By finding out who the confidential informant is—which we can in many cases—we may be able to do away with the state’s case. We can also seek to get drug evidence excluded, if the search and seizure was illegal.
Defense lawyer Andrew Stine handles all types of drug charges from simple possession to large scale trafficking of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, Oxycontyn, and other controlled substances. Being proactive in a drug case can often make the difference between facing felony or misdemeanor charges, or whether any charges are filed at all.