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Officials To Crackdown On Pill Mills

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MIAMI (CBS4)- Officials are continuing to crack down on so-called “pill mills” posing a threat to the public.

The state surgeon general, Frank Farmer, has ordered doctors who are no longer authorized to dispense addictive pain medication such as oxycodone to dispose of their remaining inventories. They get a choice: Return the drugs to your distributor, or hand the inventory over to local law enforcers.

Starting Tuesday, the Department of Health will also crack down on pain clinics that purchased more than an average of 2,000 pills a month this year and clinics that pose the greatest threat to the public health.

“Florida is taking a proactive step to combat the illegal distribution of prescription drugs,” Farmer said in a statement announcing the initiative on Friday.

Of all the oxycodone dispensed by physicians in the United States, 85 percent is dispensed by Florida doctors, earning the state the title of “pill mill capital.”

It’s the latest step in a crackdown that began in October when Florida’s “Pill Mill Bill” went on the books. The bill allows authorities to conduct inspections and impose stricter penalties on pain clinics. It also prevents pain clinics from advertising, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.

Cal Deal, one of Fort Lauderdale’s biggest foes of the phenomenon said Saturday, “Anything they can do to crack down on the mills is a good thing. You have people traveling thousand of miles to buy pills. Someone had to do something.”

In February, drug agents raided Broward Urgent Care, a pill mill near Deal’s home. The operation, along with six other clinics owned by ex-felon Vincent Colangelo, sold more than 660,000 doses of oxycodone in just two years.

Colangelo has been charged with drug trafficking conspiracy and money laundering and his clinics are shuttered.

“It was an unbelievably terrible situation for the neighborhood,” Deal said. “You had all sorts of questionable people walking around; it’s just a bad scene. It’s time to put an end to all of them.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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