Language directing U.S. Attorneys around the country to step up investigations of so-called â€œpill millsâ€ â€“ pain clinics serving as fronts for the illegal distribution of addictive pain killers â€“ is included in an appropriations bill moving through the House.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, inserted the language in the fiscal year 2013 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill to help fight prescription drug abuse, which Center for Disease Control says has become an epidemic.
â€œThe number of Americans abusing prescription drugs today is staggering,” Wolf said, citing the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that said more Americans abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, heroin and hallucinogens combined. â€œWe need to do more to shut down these centers that just hand out prescriptions and stop the practice of doctor shopping.â€
The spending bill, which yesterday was approved by the full Appropriations committee and is expected to be on the House floor next month, also urges the U.S. Attorney General to host a national summit on prescription drug abuse focusing on reducing prescription drug diversion, including the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs, proper drug disposal and increased enforcement on â€œpill millsâ€ and doctor shopping.
Wolf has a long record of working to bring attention to the problem of prescription drug abuse, especially oxycontin. Most recently, he co-sponsored the â€œStop Oxy Abuse Actâ€ (H.R. 1316), which would change U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifications to ensure that drugs containing controlled-release oxycodone hydrochloride only be allowed to be prescribed for patients with severe pain.
Wolf also joined with House Appropriations Committee chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) to introduced legislation last month to establish a standardized system for states to share prescription data to help doctors, pharmacists and authorized law enforcement officials monitor patients seeking multiple orders for painkillers and other drugs. Wolf has emphasized that privacy and the protection of personal data would be a priority when creating a national standard.
Wolf also has worked with the DEA to coordinate a nationwide prescription drug â€œtake-backâ€ initiative so that people can return unwanted or unused drugs for proper disposal. The DEA will host its 2012 “take-back” effort today, April 28, across the country. Click here http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/ for the nearest collection site.