What's A Pill Mill?

They give good doctors a bad name and they put people's lives at risk. Pill mills are places where bad doctors hand out prescription drugs like candy. In the clip to the left, you'll see more of what leading pain specialist Dr. Andrea Trescot has to say.

Here's a breakdown of what we learned:

WHAT IS A "PILL MILL?"
"Pill mill' is a term used primarily by local and state investigators to describe a doctor, clinic or pharmacy that is prescribing or dispensing powerful narcotics inappropriately or for non-medical reasons.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
"Pill mill" clinics come in 'all shapes and sizes' but investigators say more and more are being disguised as independent pain-management centers. They tend to open and shut down quickly in order to evade law enforcement. Although the problem is nationwide with recent arrests in New York, Ohio, and Chicago, Drug Enforcement Administration officials believe the highest concentration of pill mills are in Florida and Texas.

SIGNS:
  • Accept cash only
  • No physical exam is given
  • No medical records or x-rays are needed
  • You get to pick your own medicine, no questions asked
  • You are directed to "their" pharmacy
  • They treat pain with pills only
  • You get a set number of pills and they tell you a specific date to come back for more
  • They have security guards
  • There may be huge crowds of people waiting to see the doctor

    FEDERAL LAW:
    It is against federal law for a doctor to prescribe pain medication without a legitimate medical purpose or "outside the usual course of medical practice." If a prescription is deemed as not "valid," a doctor could be charged with "drug trafficking." This is a felony with the possibility of up to life in prison. It is also illegal to practice or prescribe medicine without a license.

    ABUSE FACTS:
    A February 2007 report by the CDC shows accidental drug overdoses totaled nearly 20,000 in 2004. That number increased about 80 percent from 1999, mostly due to prescription drug abuse.

    The nationwide surge in deaths now places prescription drug overdoses as the second leading cause of accidental death behind traffic crashes and painkillers as the top narcotic contributing to death.

    A recent National Drug Assessment study shows that prescription narcotics are the second most abused drug (behind marijuana), surpassing cocaine, heroin, meth and crack.
    • Pia Malbran

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