The rapid cross-border shift reflects how quickly operators can migrate when the business environment sours—and why it is difficult to fight the prescription-drug epidemic on a national scale.
Florida’s effort to crackdown on pill mills has led to the same types of clinics popping up across state lines in Georgia, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Georgia now has 125 such clinics compared to less than 10 in 2010, according to the state’s Drug and Narcotics Agency. More than 16,500 people die every year in the U.S. due to overdosing on opioid painkillers, which are now the nation’s deadliest drugs outpacing heroin and cocaine combined.
Other states could be caught off guard in the coming years, says Sam Olens, Georgia’s attorney general. “Once the pill mills leave Georgia, they’ll simply go north of us,” says Mr. Olens, looking for other states with looser regulations.
The White House says prescription painkillers are the nation’s No. 1 drug epidemic. More than 16,500 people die annually in the U.S. from opioid painkillers, more than from heroin and cocaine combined.
To combat abuse, drug and law-enforcement officials are relying on a patchwork of state laws. Only eight states restrict pain-clinic ownership to medical professionals. While 42 states have prescription-drug monitoring programs, they don’t all track the same information. Only 10 are actively sharing data with other states. Others aren’t linked in part because of patient-privacy concerns and a lack of funds.
Without uniform regulations across all states, “efforts to crack down on pill mills become like a game of Whac-A-Mole—as soon as one disappears, another one pops up,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) wrote in a letter to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in July.