Doctors in Tennessee alone prescribed more than 113 million oxycodone pills last year — Oxys, Roxies and others — according to the state Department of Health. That's equal to nearly 19 pills for every man, woman and child from Bristol to Memphis — and that doesn't count other oft-abused drugs such as hydrocodone, Xanax, methadone, Valium and Opana.How much of a problem is this? Well, as usual, look at the money. An ordinary prescription from a pill mill (a doctor writing prescriptions that he shouldn't) averages about 250 pills per month. Street prices are about $20 per pill. An office visit to a doctor that operates a pill mill is typically $250. That one visit can generate $5000 in gross sales on the street. Profit is $4,750 form that single visit. A dealer has other expenses: car, gas, travel and related needs. Still the net profit runs more than $4000 for that one stop to the doctor and pharmacy. In these circles people don't operate alone. These are loosely organized conspiracies that typically involve 10 or more individuals. The sources get the pills from pharmacies. The pharmacies are supplied prescriptions by criminal dealers who source their prescriptions from rouge doctors (pill mills). In a very short period of time--days--these pills end up in the hands of hundreds of addicts on the street.
The Tennessean reports on this issue today:
The National Office of Drug Control recently named prescription drug abuse as the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. Tennessee ranks second in the nation in the number of prescription medications dispensed. The law enforcement community supported the new regulations, which require pain clinics to be certified through the Health Department, outlaw cash transactions and subject medical professionals who work at illegal pain clinics to stiff civil penalties.But despite the new regulations, pain clinics continue to pop up in the Nashville area, and questions remain as to whether the state has the necessary resources to enforce the new rules.