Why Pill Mills Still Prosper

Opioid addiction is destroying this country.

Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently showed up at Advanced Urgent Care facilities in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and some areas of Philadelphia.

The reason for the investigation has not been released, but based on the prescriptions these walk-in clinics have been sending to my pharmacy, pill milling must be somewhere on their list of charges.

Perhaps I'm jaded, but the idea of a walk-in clinic that specializes in opioid-maintenance management stinks like the fisherman's wharf on a 100-degree day. While there is the possibility that physicians are pumping out opiate prescriptions at an alarming rate, the fact that the government would allow such an entity to exist in the first place is beyond me.

When half of the physicians staffed in a clinic have sanctions on their license that forbid us from filling their prescriptions, it tells you something. We just sit there and wait for the shoe to drop. During that time, however, a lot of patients can get hurt.

Stopping opiates cold turkey is no picnic, but it can be done.

Medical opioid maintenance has its proper place in medicine, but I have seen very few physicians actually do it right. Six-month detoxification plans are no more, and patients are kept on their daily fix forever.

I have had opioid-maintenance patients tell me that this was their last script, only to see them come in with another the next month, and then the month after that. It makes me wonder whether the prescribers decided their monthly fees were more important than their patients getting clean, so they talked them out of it.

If Advance Urgent Care merited a raid, then its clinics are getting what they deserve. If they are shut down, so be it; however, it won't help. Pill mills still abound.

Pharmacies will continue to fill the prescriptions because, at the end of the day, it all comes down to script count. It is a monster that grows a new head every time that you cut one off. My soul blackens a little every time I get caught up in the middle of all of this.

Opioid addiction is destroying this country. It affects every generation, ethnicity, and income level. Something has to give, because we're doomed if it doesn't.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, is the author of Fatman in Recovery: Tales from the Brink of Obesity.