Monday, August 13, 2012

Pill Mill in Florida: Getting Off Easy

Given the nature of our work here at PRIUM, I'm often asked about "pill mills" and the impact they have on the epidemic of prescription drug addiction in this country.  My response is always the same: Yes, we occassionally see what looks like "pill mill" activity.  But those cases are few and far between and pale in comparison (with respect to volume, complexity, and duration) to the cases that follow the more typical, albeit ineffective, medical treatment pathway under the care of a licensed physician running a perfectly legal practice. 

That said, the pill mill phenomenon represents all that is wrong with prescription drug therapy and brings into specific relief the challenges associated with stemming the tide of addiction, dependence, diversion, and every other unethical and/or illegal practice associated with prescription drugs.  As far as I'm concerned, if local or federal authorities identify a pill mill, they should shut it down and prosecute the offenders to the greatest possible extent of the law.

A recent case in Florida is cause for both confusion and concern.  Dr. Riyaz Jummani allegedly wrote scripts for approximately 500,000 oxycodone pills... in three months.  Authorities called his operation one of the busiest pill mills in the state of Florida.  This is the sort of case where an example should be made, right?  Hit him hard and send a message - run a pill mill, and you're going to jail for a very long time. 

Jummani's probable sentence (based on a "deal" with the Attorney General)?  Six months.  And in a work-release program, too. 

How is this possible?  What, exactly, is Jummani giving authorities in return for this light weight sentence?  By all accounts, Jummani was the head of the operation - it's not as if he's the #2 guy offering to testify against #1. 

If we're going to make any progress, as a society, in reigning in the inappropriate use of prescription drugs, there is a lot we're going to have to do differently.  This is an easy one.  This guy should go away for a long, long time. 

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