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Pill mills hurting our community

Everybody wants to talk about health care reform, but much of the debate overlooks perhaps the greatest epidemic facing our nation: prescription drug abuse.

And while it may be impossible to stop this crisis completely, our leaders must open their eyes to the fact that much of this problem is caused by pain clinics that are more focused on making a buck than on helping patients get healthy.

This abuse is made possible because of a flawed system that allows doctors to prescribe medicines with little or no oversight, often distributing thousands of pills before they are shut down.

Recent headlines have helped shine a light on how destructive and deadly these pill mills truly are to our communities.

A Kansas doctor and his wife have been charged with directly contributing to 21 deaths in about a five-year period. The clinic that they run has been linked to 68 fatal overdoses that come from illegally distributing prescrption drugs.

But the problem hits much closer to home and often comes from clinics that are considered legal.

While the Tri-State had and still has its share of these types of facilities, it is Florida that has earned a reputation for allowing these pill mills to operate virtually untouched.

Anyone who doesn’t think there is a direct pipeline of prescription drugs from Florida straight to the Tri-State is simply deluding themselves.

The ongoing trial involving the murder of a Franklin Furnace family has ties to prescription drug abuse and the Florida trade.

We must start taking this problem seriously and that means tougher regulations on what and how many prescriptions can be prescribed, revoking licenses of doctors who break the rules and more rehabilitation options for addicts.

But, the first step will be for our lawmakers to understand we truly have a problem.