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Moratorium on ‘pain clinics’proposed

By Staff | Mar 19, 2011

City Council will discuss putting a moratorium on pain management clinics in Cape Coral during their workshop on Monday, a temporary move that would deny the issuance of business tax receipts for a period of a year.
Colloquially known as “pill mills”, state legislators are looking to curb what many consider to be businesses operating in a realm of minimal legality, where physicians supply prescription medication to anyone willing to pay.
Cape Coral interim Police Chief Jay Murphy described a pill mill as a doctor’s office, clinic or health care facility that routinely conspires in dispensing of “controlled substances outside the scope of prevailing standards of medical practice.”
“We have seen a marked increase associated with prescription meds. The quantity of oxycodone hitting the streets of SW Florida each day is staggering,” Murphy wrote. “Many of these pills are obtained with “legal” prescriptions written by less than scrupulous physicians.”
Councilmember Bill Deile, who is sponsoring the ordinance, said it’s an opportunity for Cape Coral to get out in front of any potential problems.
“It’s a minor problem now, but it’s a preemptive move to keep it from becoming a major one,” Deile said.
Deile said other municipalities in Florida have enacted similar ordinances. Cape Coral would remain exposed without an ordinance, attracting people who would use clinics in other cities as their resources ran out.
“They will begin to move to cities where they have easy access,” he added.
According to Murphy, seven Floridians die each day from prescription drug use, more than all illegal drugs combined.
In 2009 there were 2,488 deaths caused by at least one prescription drug, nearly as many deaths reported by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in 2009, according to Murphy.
Murphy wrote that he wasn’t trying to imply that all physicians are causing the problems, but the moratorium on issuing business tax receipts for “pain clinics” would be a good place for the city to start battling the problems.
“This is our local effort to limit the opportunity for ‘legal’ narcotics to be obtained through fraud and deception,” he said.