Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011 Introduced

Bipartisan bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for increased penalties for operators of pill mills.

Bipartisan bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide for increased penalties for operators of pill mills.

Yesterday, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced in the US House of Representatives HR 1065, “The Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011,” legislation aimed at stopping the proliferation of pill mills by doubling the prison sentence for operating such an establishment from 10 to 20 years, and tripling the fine from $1 million to $3 million.

A news release from Rep. Markey’s office says that the bill also “specifies that assets seized from these drug dealers be used to support prescription drug databases which are intended to prevent the illegal dispensing of prescription medicines. The legislation also strengthens prescription standards for certain addictive pain drugs, making them more difficult to fraudulently obtain.” Created in consultation with federal and state authorities, the Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011 authorizes the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to use the assets seized from pill mills to enforce drug laws and use the profits to fund DEA enforcement actions against pill mills and support drug treatment programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It also proposes to reclassify hydrocodone combination drugs as Schedule II drugs, thus making more difficult to prescribe and obtain.

Markey said that “Doctors offices should not be 'pill mills' where addicts shop for painkillers. This legislation will help curb the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse by cracking down on the healthcare providers who prescribe medically unnecessary painkillers and will support law enforcement in their efforts to identify and stop illegal activities.”

The office of co-sponsor Rep. Buchanan also released a statement touting the fact that the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse (NCAPDA) “immediately endorsed Buchanan’s legislation and urged its swift passage,” with April Rovero, founder and President of the NCAPDA claiming that “Prescription drug abuse has become a national epidemic that has no boundaries… The pill mills that are fueling this epidemic simply must be shut down. The NCAPDA applauds Congressman Buchanan for taking this action to save lives and urges Congress to pass this bill as quickly as possible.”

Calling the bill “a crucial step toward putting these pill mills out of business,” Buchanan said that “Many of these so-called pain clinics are nothing more than illegal drug distribution networks that bring untold misery to our children, our families, and our communities. I appreciate the bipartisan support I’ve received from members across the country who recognize the severity of this epidemic.”

The statement also notes that the bill includes provisions to support state-based prescription drug monitoring programs, ironic given recent efforts by the governor of Rep. Buchanan’s home state and his allies in the Florida state House of Representatives to kill the prescription drug monitoring program there.

HCPLive wants to know:

Are you in favor of the tougher enforcement provisions called for in Pill Mill Crackdown Act?

Do you support reclassifying hydrocodone medications as Schedule II drugs? What effect might this have on patients who need them for valid pain management reasons?

Do you foresee any possible abuses stemming from this bill that would restrict the operation of legitimate pain management practices?

Leave a comment below!