Florida’s legislature passed a bill that aims to crack down on the “pill mills” that have made the state the epicenter of illegal U.S. prescription-drug sales, reports the Wall Street Journal. The bill stiffens penalties for doctors who overprescribe medication and for individuals who improperly set up pain-management clinics. It also tightens reporting requirements to a soon-to-be-created drug-monitoring database. Gov. Rick Scott, who had been lambasted for his opposition to the database, plans to sign the measure.
Pill mills—storefront operations that dispense painkillers like oxycodone without conducting medical examinations of buyers—have proliferated in Florida. Law-enforcement officials say the problem has stemmed in part from poor regulation. The bill bars physicians from dispensing painkillers in their offices or clinics, though certain exceptions were carved out, including for surgeons and hospices. And it shortens the deadline to report prescriptions to the drug database to seven days from 15. Partly to address the governor’s privacy worries, lawmakers required that database administrators undergo FBI background checks.