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Floridians Flock to Open New Pharmacies

As new laws target doctors who dispense narcotics, applications to open pharmacies have surged in Florida and nearby Georgia.

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The DEA is seeing new pharmacies
springing up. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

01/30/12

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Drug dealers have been exploring ways to sidestep new laws introduced last year to govern “pill mills” in Florida—long the nation’s hub for painkiller distribution. After the state banned doctors from distributing narcotics like oxycodone direct from clinics, hundreds of people have tried to open private pharmacies; a pharmacy now must register with DEA and be licensed by the state to administer drugs requiring a doctor's prescription. Many applicants who get turned down in Florida have been applying in Georgia: 95% of Georgia applicants are somehow connected to Florida. And the DEA expects yet more pill-pushing pharmacies to surface in Tennessee and North Carolina once they get pushed out of Georgia. "Traffickers adapt to situations," says Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the DEA field offices in Florida. "We knew once we put pressure on the pill mills, the wrong people would start opening pharmacies." Many Florida pharmacies are still selling thousands of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills to people recruited by drugs dealers. But since the new laws came into effect, the number of Florida doctors in the US top 100 for purchasing oxycodone has dropped from 90 to 13, according to the DEA.

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