Prescription painkillers are in high demand on the black market and have been the subject of extreme concern for years from healthcare professionals and law enforcement. The number of lives being affected by the abuse of opiates is staggering. In the United States, opiate related deaths have surpassed car accidents for the number one spot in the accidental death category. Since the problem has reached every community even in the smallest of towns, many state officials and professionals have put forth much effort to curb the problem.
The high number of deaths can be attributed to many different things. In the early 2000's there was a movement to liberalize the prescribing of pain medications. The healthcare community at the time felt that patient's care was not being taken seriously. Many healthcare professionals felt that no patient should ever be in pain. With this movement and the release and heavy marketing of new prescription painkillers, a perfect storm was formed.
Due to the over-prescribing of these medications, thousands of lives were altered. High amounts of painkillers were being prescribed for minor injuries and our society quickly became overwhelmed with the complications from the over prescribing. We started to see the demand for painkillers increase rapidly and pain clinics started to become known as “pill mills.” Pill mills are store front doctor offices where patients would go for a cash visit in return for a prescription of painkillers. They were infamous for years in Florida and were the reason for a massive amount of painkillers on the black market. Patients who wanted the medications were not the only people to frequent pill mills, but drug dealers themselves would go to these offices or pay people to go so they could obtain these drugs for illegal sale.
Recently in my home state of New Jersey, a physician lost his medical license for trading cash for painkillers. According to the Attorney General John J. Hoffman, the doctor was “a major contributor to the opiate abuse crisis in New Jersey.”
The state Board of Medical Examiners also ordered Paul M. DiLorenzo to pay a $150,000 fine plus $50,000 to cover the state's investigative and legal costs, according to Hoffman's statement. DiLorenzo would charge people $500 for an initial visit and $300 for follow-up visits, giving them 240 tablets of oxycodone each time without a medical examination, the attorney general said. He also allowed his office manager to write prescriptions and share in the payoffs.
DiLorenzo's prescribing practices drew attention by the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program. The Division of Consumer Affairs' Enforcement Bureau investigated him and his practice, located in the Oakhurst section of Ocean Township.
"DiLorenzo was, without question, a major contributor to our opiate abuse crisis. He put lives at risk in absolute defiance of his oath to 'do no harm.'" Hoffman said. "One victim told our investigators, 'I went to Dr. DiLorenzo for help and all he did was write prescriptions. Wasn't he supposed to help me?' This painful question from a recovering addict speaks volumes about our fight against indiscriminate prescribing."
The sad truth is that this problem is still going on today all around the United States. “Dirty Doctor's” who are putting peoples lives on the line for greed are making good doctors look bad. This also harms people with legitimate pain in the long run because good doctors are afraid to prescribe opiates because of this problem. Hopefully more states will take action to help curb the abuse.