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‘Pill mills’ getting attention of DEA

The term is often synonymous with dirty connotations—drug dealing, narcotics factory, over-prescribing, criminal enterprise—”pill mills” have become a rampant problem in the U.S., often side-skirting regulations and investigators.

In response to the worsening situation, the DEA launched an operation last summer aimed at raiding “pill mill” establishments across the U.S.. The operation, dubbed “Operation Pilluted,” has primarily focused on southern states and has resulted in nearly 300 arrests, including dozens of doctors and pharmacists.

Just two suspensions have been issued to the over 40 accused doctors and pharmacists thus far as a result of the DEA’s operation, according to a recent AP report. The accused will likely argue that their discretion is protected by state laws.

The state of Arkansas has seen the most law enforcement activity. Approximately half of the operation’s 300 arrests have occurred in the state. Arkansas is a leading distributor in controlled substances – with hundreds of millions of oxycodone, hydrocodone, and Xanax pills disseminated annually. “Pill mills” are the center-point of distribution.

The prevalence of “pill mill” establishments has naturally led most physicians to publicly denounce other physicians who casually over-prescribe painkillers as drug dealers.

But some doctors are adamant, even defiant, that being licensed to prescribe these controlled substances allows them broad discretion to write prescriptions to whomever they deem to be in need of one.

What is certain is that the Drug Enforcement Agency has made “pill mills”—where the illegal distribution of controlled substances often takes place—a high priority.

Read the report here.