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Palm Coast Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010 8 years ago

Sheriff: Pills an 'epidemic'

by: Andrew OBrien Contributing Writer

The moratorium will prevent pain clinics from migrating north to Flagler County.

Flagler County Sheriff Donald Fleming has successfully put the cap on any new pain clinics planning to locate to Flagler County in the next year.

Three such clinics exist in the county. Fleming said all three are legitimate, but he’s concerned clinics, popularly known as “pill mills,” where doctors prescribe drugs without a checkup, could relocate here.

As counties and cities implement a moratorium, the people running the pill mills relocate to different areas, according to County Attorney Al Hadeed.

Because of that, Fleming is also urging other municipalities to consider a moratorium, too. The Flagler Beach City Commission will consider the proposal Thursday, Nov. 18, and the Palm Coast City Council will discuss the issue at a future workshop.

The moratorium puts a restraint on any new clinics locating to Flagler County until new state law regulating the facilities goes into effect next year. The County Commission unanimously agreed Monday, Nov. 15, to put the moratorium into effect.

“We’re taking a time out because this is a new thing that we’ve not anticipated,” Hadeed said. “We want to assess what the negative effects are and how we can properly establish ordinances, codes, policies that will limit those (negative) effects on the community.”

Hadeed added that a piece of legislation was passed during the last session regarding pill mills, but it doesn’t go into effect until January 2011. “Oxycodone and oxycontin are obituate types of drugs that have become an epidemic,” Fleming said at the meeting. “We have children ages 10, 11, 12 that are addicted to these drugs.”

According to the latest report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, 8,653 individuals were found to have died with one or more of these popular drugs in their bodies.

The report, which was published June 30, 2010, states: “Prescription drugs account for 79% of all drug occurrences in this report when Ethyl Alcohol is excluded.”

County Commissioner Milissa Holland praised the work by Fleming, saying that the county needs to deal with these issues now.

“We don’t need to put our men and women in harm’s way, to open our doors to businesses such as these,” Holland said.

The moratorium comes just days after the Flagler County Sheriff ’s Office responded to an incident Wednesday, Nov. 10, after a woman reported being robbed of her prescription pills.

The victim stated that she and her male companion returned from filling the prescription at an Orlando drugstore. The victim had promised to give half the pills to the male, but when the two stopped at a bank ATM, the male pulled out a boxcutter knife and took the pills and the woman’s vehicle, the report stated. That investigation is ongoing and as of Nov. 15, deputies were still looking for the male suspect.


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