The Deadliest Drug: Prescription Drug Abuse

Thursday, November 8, 2012

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

America’s deadliest drug doesn’t come from Columbia and isn’t smuggled in from Mexico. It is sold legally at the most frequently visited pharmacies. Overdosing on prescription painkillers, or opioids, kills more than 15,000 people a year in the U.S., according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. The war on prescription drugs is different than fighting cocaine and heroin, because every stage of opioids distribution is regulated by the government and everyone in the distribution chain is identifiable.

The Wall Street Journal article, released on October 5, 2012, tells the story of a 23-year-old Florida woman who went from a doctor’s office receptionist and occasional model to become a painkiller addict. Her addiction would eventually spiral out of control and take her life, according to the Wall Street Journal.

To read the entire Wall Street Journal article, click here.

Crackdown on All Players in the Industry.

If you’ve been following our blog, or just watching the news in general, you should be aware of the crackdown by law enforcement authorities on pharmacies, pharmacists, physicians and legitimate drug distributors.

Regulators have been cracking down on doctors who prescribe to “doctor shoppers” and “smurfs.” Click here to read a blog on 25 arrest warrants that were issued in connection with one such Florida law enforcement operation.

Now authorities, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), are more aggressively moving up the chain to pharmacies and distributors. Two CVS pharmacies in Sanford, Florida, had their controlled substance licenses revoked in September 2012 (click here to read more on that story). Just a few days later, the Walgreens distribution center in Jupiter, Florida, was served with an immediate suspension order (ISO) from the DEA, blocking the distribution of all controlled substances to pharmacies in Florida and on the East Coast (click here to read more on that story).

Who’s To Blame?

According to the Wall Street Journal article, participants in the drug-supply chain are just pointing fingers at one another when it comes to fixing the problem. Doctors involved say it is the pharmacists’ responsibility to notice when patients have prescriptions from multiple doctors or bring in phony prescriptions. Pharmacists say they can’t second guess every prescription they receive. Finally, distributors say they are just filling product orders.

Florida Uses the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Last year the state launched the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. It’s a statewide program for doctors and pharmacists who dispense controlled substances to report the information to a database. The hope was for this database to encourage safer prescribing of controlled substances and to reduce drug abuse within the state of Florida.

The problem with the database is that it is not being used by doctors. For more on that story, click here.

Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse Are Devastating.

There is one thing everyone can agree on, the effects of abusing prescription drugs can be devastating. In the case of the young Florida woman, she died from mixing different drugs she picked up at a pain management clinic and a Walgreens pharmacy.

Click here for tips for physicians to manage pain patients.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at


What do you think of this blog? As a pharmacist or physician, how do you deal with those looking for prescription painkillers?


Catan, Thomas, Darrett, Devlin, and Martin, Timothy. “Prescription for Addiction.” Wall Street Journal. (October 6-7, 2012). From:

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

Tag Words: prescription abuse, painkiller abuse, pharmacy, pharmacist, pharmacy investigation, physicians, pain management doctor, overprescribing, defense attorney, defense lawyer, Florida drug crackdown, pain management, pain management clinics, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), administrative law attorney, administrative hearings, controlled substance licenses, revoked license, DEA raid, prescription drug trafficking, emergency suspension order (ESO), immediate suspension order (ISO), DEA defense attorney, DEA defense lawyer

"The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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