Report: Pill mill doctors leaving Florida in droves



CENTRAL FLORIDA,None - A new report from the Drug Enforcement Agency shows that pill mill doctors are leaving Florida in droves.

In 2010, DEA agents said 90 of the top 100 oxycodone-prescribing doctors in the country lived in Florida. Now, that number has dropped to 13.

WFTV's Racquel Asa tried to find out who those top 13 pain-pill prescribers are, but agents said they can't release those names because the doctors haven't been charged with a crime.

But investigators said they are seeing a huge drop in oxycodone purchases by doctors, and they're crediting new laws and a prescription pill database.

The drop is drastic: 97 percent fewer oxycodone purchases by Florida doctors compared to 2010.

Florida's new pain-pill laws stripped doctors of their ability to give out drugs like oxycodone for cash.

Since September of 2011, pharmacies are now required by law to track the number of pain-pill prescriptions filled. Now patient names are kept in a statewide database, preventing people from getting several prescriptions filled at different pharmacies.

"Prior to this database, what they would have to do is go to each individual pharmacy where they thought a patient was filling a prescription and pull that information," said Gordon Punt of Bay Pharmacy.

And if pharmacies suspect a problem, they can deny the pills, or in some cases, keep the prescriptions and report it to agents, who then investigate.

Lake County has seen a bit of the decline, but the sheriff's office said criminals are going elsewhere.

"We're actually seeing more cases of locals leaving the state, going as far away as Canada in some cases to obtain drugs because of the new legislation," said Sgt. James Vachon of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

And pill mill doctors are following too. We found out that neighboring states like Georgia and Tennessee now top the list of oxycodone-purchasing physicians.

Even though the problem has gotten better, the fight is still not over for law enforcement.

"It's a lot easier to spot now before it took a lot more for detectives to spot," Vachon said.

DEA agents also said that pharmacies have seen a decline as well in oxycodone purchases, dropping 29 percent compared to 2010.

Just last week, a pill mill doctor in Osceola County was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Dr. Jose Menendez supplied thousands of oxycodone pills to drug dealers in Sarasota.

And Dr. John Gayden of Brevard County was arrested in October. He's accused of prescribing more than 250,000 oxycodone pills in eight months.