DEA urged to step up fight against Ohio ‘pill mills’

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

By Alan Johnson

The Columbus Dispatch

COLUMBUS (MCT) — Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown wants the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to ramp up enforcement efforts against “pill mills” in Ohio.

Brown said prescription-drug abuse is hitting Ohio especially hard.

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“The cost of allowing these illegal operations to continue is simply too high; it perpetuates addiction, fosters drug dealing, and most tragically, leads to overdose deaths,” Brown said in a statement.

The Democrat added his voice to those of Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine and two state lawmakers who announced prescription-drug fighting plans in the past two weeks.

Deaths from prescription-drug overdoses tripled in Ohio between 1999 and 2006, as the number nationwide doubled.

Seven of the 10 counties with the highest drug-overdose death rates are in southern Ohio.

Brown recently called for establishment of a Medicaid “lock-in” program so prescription-drug users cannot get excess prescriptions from multiple doctors and pharmacies.

He also backed reauthorizing federal legislation for prescription drug monitoring and a separate law to prevent teenagers from obtaining discarded prescription drugs by creating so-called “take-back” programs.

DeWine recently named former Adams County Prosecutor Aaron Haslam to head a special-prosecutions unit. DeWine promised a commitment of about $2.5million, in part to provide funds for local law-enforcement.

Previously, state Reps. Dave Burke, a pharmacist from Marysville, and Terry Johnson, a doctor and former Scioto County coroner, introduced House Bill 93. The measure would curtail doctors’ ability to “personally furnish” controlled substances, strengthen pain-clinic licensure, provide consumer education and develop a take-back program.