Orange County may restrict pain clinics

Orange County leaders are looking to make changes within local pain-management clinics and how they operate. In a 47-page report from the Orange County’s prescription drug task force, issues have been outlined to fix the problems with pain clinics and drug abuse here in Florida.

Pain clinics may soon be required to provide the county with monthly business records documenting the number of prescriptions that are written and the total number of patients being treated.

This may also change operating hours for the clinics limiting them to only weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. New clinics will also be banned from opening in the same area as other pharmacies.

Recently legislators launched the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to help physicians and pharmacists look up the substances that patients have been prescribed. However, the prescription drug task force thinks that more needs to be done to solve the problem.

The prescription drug task force wants to require both physicians and pharmacists to check the PDMP. As of right now, there are no requirements to use this system; it’s just a useful database for physicians and pharmacists to check.

Orange County Sherriff’s Lt. Bruce McMullen hopes that the recommendations will make it more difficult for people to doctor-shop and obtain prescriptions. He thinks that with the new zoning rules, neighborhoods will be much safer with less criminal activity involving pills and drugs.

The prescription drug task force has made many recommendations that are in the process of being looked at. Some require pain-management clinics to maintain monthly personnel reports, while other recommendations prohibit new clinics to operate within 1,000 feet from a pre-existing pharmacy or school. Landlords may also be affected by these recommendations. Landlords may soon be required to “exercise reasonable care” to ensure pain clinics are not violating any laws.

Those who violate any of these recommendations will likely be charged with a criminal penalty or misdemeanor.

Not all of the suggestions will be passed, and county leaders will soon announce which laws they approve of.

Public officials are hoping with these new measures will help minimize prescription-drug abuse in the area. Even though the number of registered pain-management clinics locally has decreased, officials think these additions will make more of a difference.

FDLE Agent Tom Foy, who was a task-force member says, “If we make it tough for the illegal, illicit [pain clinic] owners to operate in Orange County, we hope that they don’t open at all.”

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