Articles Posted in Pain Management

u_s_capitol_building.jpg WASHINGTON D.C. (May 6, 2011) – U. S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced the “Stop Trafficking of Pills Act’’ or the ‘‘STOP” Act target patients and drug dealers looking for narcotic pain medications. The Senator wants individual states to take a tougher stance in fighting Medicaid fraud where prescription medications are involved.

Last year Medicaid shelled out $820 million for prescription drugs in Ohio alone last year. Drug seekers use their Medicaid card to go from doctor to doctor and pharmacy to pharmacy, and although Florida boosts the highest number of Oxycodone prescriptions filled yearly, Ohio ranks number two. The Senator claims Oxycodone, morphine and methadone are the increasing deaths and overdoses.

Senator Brown’s bill would require patients to “lock-in” their choice of a Medicaid provider and pharmacy, which is already required in many states now. The Ohio Highway Patrol has already been targeting prescription pill couriers on Ohio’s interstates. In March alone, more than 1300 arrests were made for illegal prescription pills. One of the biggest corridors, for illegal prescriptions drugs, runs from Detroit, Michigan to southern Ohio before filtering into other states.

doctor-writing-prescription.jpgCOLUMBUS, OHIO (May 9, 2011) – Joining other states with similar legislation, Ohio’s licensed doctors support the passage of regulations to curb the ‘pill mill’ problem and cut the rapid growth of the painkiller-addiction problem in the state. The physicians are also concerned, however, that patients with legitimate pain relief needs could find it harder to come by their drugs, if doctors are worried they’ll be targeted for investigation. “Nothing about anything that we’re doing is meant to dissuade good physicians,” states Richard Whitehouse, executive director of the State Medical Board. Instead, the aim is to give the board more authority to target pill mills.

Ohio House Bill 93 seeks pharmaceutical licensure of free-standing pain management clinics, which is where the majority of patients receive the narcotic pain killers. In addition, doctors would be required to have an affiliation with a local hospital and be board-certified in pain management. Doctors would also have to report any narcotic pain prescriptions written to a state-monitored automated reporting system.

In the past, physicians prescribed strong pain killers mostly to their cancer patients. After reevaluation of pain as the “fifth” vital sign, doctors began to more freely write for pain killer medications. “Now, there’s a crisis of drug abuse and diversion,” states Dr. Robert Taylor of Ohio State University Medical Center.

CINCINNATI, OHIO (May 3, 2011) The Oxy Express could be responsible for more deaths than any other drug-related death in the country. It comes as no surprise to local law enforcement then that the doctors who write the most prescriptions of Oxycodone have all practiced in the heart of the Oxycodone supply area, South Florida.

The more than 800 pain clinics in Florida issue 85% of the Oxycodone prescriptions in the country. Addicts climb into vans, cars and buses to make the trip from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana to get their hands on powerful narcotic painkillers. They’ll shoot it, snort it or smoke it, unless they’re also dealers and buying for the lucrative resale market.

The DEA says pain clinics can make up to $20,000 in a morning and will even hire armed guards to patrol the clinic parking lot. The DEA makes it clear that it doesn’t want to target legitimate doctors issuing legitimate pain prescriptions.

dea%20badge.jpg Healthcare providers have been subjected to increased scrutiny by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) policing the medical profession’s prescriptive and dispensing policies with respect to Schedule II narcotics, including Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin.

The IOS — Immediate Order of Suspension — is an emergency provision of federal law that permits the Attorney General to suspend a practitioner’s license to dispense narcotics without a hearing or presentation of evidence.

Under 21 U.S.C. §§ 823824, the DEA has authority to shut down a medical provider’s practice. The IOS imposes a presumption of guilt and places the burden of establishing medical necessity on the practitioner.

PALM BEACH, FL – Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe announced the arrest and filing of criminal charges against 11 individuals, including five physicians, for a total of 172 counts which include Racketeering (RICO), Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering, Trafficking in Oxycodone, Money Laundering, Unlicensed Practice of Health Care Profession and other related criminal charges. The arrests follow a complex multi-agency investigation dubbed OPERATION “PILL NATION” involving roughly 340 undercover buys from doctors and medical personnel in pain clinics throughout a three county South Florida area.

OPERATION “SNAKE OIL” (click here to see an earlier post about this) also carried out the same day as “OPERATION “PILL NATION” is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement and being prosecuted by the federal authorities.

“Legitimate pain management is a essential part of medical practice,” however “we cannot, and will not, allow medicine to be used by merchants of misery to corrupt the health of individuals and undermine the welfare of whole communities. We are in a continuing crisis, but the tide is turning and today’s enforcement actions provide a clear example of progress,” said State Attorney McAuliffe. To read the State Attorney’s Office’s Press release in its entirety, click here.

Defendants Owned and Worked at Seven Area Clinics that Prescribed over 660,000 Pills, Profited More than $22 Million

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – The United States Attorney for the Southern District, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, announce the indictment of six South Florida residents for their participation in the illegal distribution of pain killers.

snake-oil.jpgToday’s case, dubbed Operation Snake Oil, is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute high level members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.

back-pain.jpgWhen it comes to chronic pain, the current DEA war on pain management leads to a question: How much authority should the DEA have over the treatment of patients? According to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, “If you’re thinking about getting into pain management using opioids as appropriate: DON’T. Forget what you learned in medical school – drug agents [from the DEA] now set medical standards.” For more on this click: here.

Chronic pain, pain that lasts longer than 24 hours, affects approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population, that is 76 million people, according to the National Centers For Health Statisitics. Of those that reported chronic pain, 43% reported that pain has persisted longer than a year. More than 26 million people report having persistent back pain. Ouch! (To read more on this, click: here).

The treatment options, depending on the cause of the pain involve invasive measures such as surgery and injections, however such results can be short lived. Also, physicians who practice interventional pain find it difficult to get privileges to perform services at hospitals and have very high malpractice insurance premiums. Chiropractic adjustment and physical therapy are less invasive and less expensive, but for chronic pain are also considered by many patients to be of limited use.

drugs_1.jpgAccording to an article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, at least 45 pain clinics opened in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the past year, while state law makers and state and local law enforcement agencies stepped-up their efforts to put an end to the operation suspected “pill mills.”

In August 2008, 66 pain clinics were open for business in Broward and Palm Beach counties combined. The Sun-Sentinel article reports that according to data available from the Florida Department of Health, the number centers issuing narcotic pain medications currently is more than the times what it was in August 2008 – with 122 in Broward to 122 and in Palm Beach County to 108.

Pain clinics “are proliferating despite our efforts,” Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti said last week, after state and federal agents executed search warrants at three pain clinics owned or controlled by Christopher and Jeffrey George in Palm Beach County. The Georges’ homes were also searched.

fingerprint.jpgThe City of Delray Beach, Florida, is considering requiring pain management patients to give their fingerprints so those fingerprints can be used to immediately electronically check against a database to make sure the patient is not doctor shopping. That sounds great, but there is currently no electronic patient fingerprint network or database anywhere and for Delray Beach to create and maintain one itself it would cost more than they likely have budgeted for much of the services the city provides.
To read more, click here.
One bill pending before the Florida legislature proposes requiring that all physicians issuing a prescription for Schedule II and III controlled substances use a “multi-state electronic prescribing network” to verify whether a patient is doctor shopping. Unfortunately, no such network exists for controlled substances. In addition, the statute does not provide any way to fund it except for grants from unknown sources. For more, click here.

multi-drugs.jpgIn an intriguing development in the war on pain, Palm Beach County, Florida, passed an ordinance designed to prevent new pain clinics from opening up and are intending to pass ordinances to curb the practices of existing pain clinics. This is a somewhat unusual development and may form the basis for legal challenges. The county commissioners, with some harsh words for pain clinics, are apparently attempting to regulate the medical profession through zoning regulations.
To read more, click: here.

Contact Information