A number of pain clinics in south Florida were subjected to raids by state and federal agents, in an operation that sought to expose what was termed as â€œpill mills,â€ according to a report by Reuters.
Six clinic owners and operators were charged with conspiring to illegally dispense more than 660,000 doses of the often-abused painkiller oxycodone, to patients who are reached through the internet, in a scheme that was said to have netted $22 million in profits.
Oxycodone is abused by crushing and then snorting the drug, or by dissolving and injecting it. The drug is addictive and has led to a number of overdose cases, some of which have been fatal.
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer shared that â€œaccording to recent estimates, Florida prescribes ten times more oxycodone pills than all other states combined.â€
The crackdown was given the name â€œOperation Snake Oil,â€ and targeted storefront pain clinic owners and operations. These entities were marketing prescriptions using more than 1,600 Internet sites.
The indictment revealed that drug dealers are able to sell a 30-mg oxycodone pill on the street for $10 to $30, sometimes even more, as demand for the drug increased. The clinics in question demanded cash payments, and justified the prescriptions it issues for the drugs by falsifying urine tests and â€œover-aggressivelyâ€ interpreting medical imaging.
Michele Leonhart, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said: â€œPrescription drug abuse is our country’s fastest growing drug problem, and pill mills such as those in Florida are fueling much of that growth.â€