With new reports highlighting the results of Florida’s pill mill crackdown and prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), Novus Medical Detox Center examines how these initiatives could impact drug prevention efforts nationwide.

A new study published this month revealed that Florida’s PDMP and pill mill laws have contributed to decreases in opioid prescriptions and abuse,1 reflecting similar findings published by federal and state agencies. Novus Medical Detox Center analyzes the outcomes of these efforts, including how they might be implemented in other states and how they have affected illicit drug use overall.

Florida was once considered the “epicenter of the nation’s ‘pill mill’ epidemic”2 due to “weak regulatory oversights” and the absence of a statewide PDMP.3 In 2010, the DEA reported that 90 of the nation’s top 100 oxycodone-purchasing physicians were located in Florida,2 which was also home to more than 900 pain management clinics.3 That same year, Florida recorded 2,722 overdose deaths from prescription drugs, including 2,560 from opioid analgesics and a record 1,516 from oxycodone alone.4

In 2011, state officials and legislators took action to combat prescription drug abuse and rising overdose deaths, implementing a statewide PDMP and enacting stricter laws to regulate pain clinics.5 As a result of these measures:

  • Within the first year of implementation, Florida’s PDMP and pill mill laws led to statistically significant decreases in opioid prescriptions, opioid volume and morphine milligram equivalent per transaction.1
  • Oxycodone purchases by Florida doctors decreased 97% in 2011 compared to the previous year.4
  • By 2011, only 13 of the nation’s top 100 oxycodone-dispensing prescribers remained in Florida; as of 2013, there were none.4
  • In 2014, just 367 pain management clinics were registered in Florida (3).
  • From December 2011 to September 2014, “doctor shopping”—obtaining prescriptions from more than five doctors and five pharmacies—declined 53% in Florida, from 2,864 to 1,355 cases.5
  • In 2012, Florida prescription overdose deaths fell to 2,116 and opioid analgesic deaths to 1,892; compared to 2010, those figures dropped by 22.3% and 26.1%, respectively.4
  • Oxycodone overdose deaths have steadily declined, from 1,247 in 2011, to 735 in 2012, to 534 in 2013—a 65% decrease over 2010 rates.5

“These outcomes illustrate the dramatic impact Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program and tougher laws have had on rogue pill mills, prescription opioid abuse and overdose deaths,” said Kent Runyon, Executive Director of Novus Medical Detox Center. “Other states would be wise to follow Florida’s approach in targeting prescription drug abuse, since pain clinics will set up shop wherever there are lax laws and weak regulatory oversight.”

Following Florida’s pill mill crackdown, pain clinic operators moved to neighboring Georgia. By 2011, over one-fifth of the top 100 oxycodone-purchasing physicians were located in Georgia.2 While the state had just 10 pain clinics in 2010, there were up to 140 just three years later—leading Georgia to implement its own PDMP and pill mill laws.6

Runyon advocates for strict pain clinic laws and PDMPs in every state, but cautions that opioid users often transition to more readily available street drugs if they can’t obtain prescription analgesics. In Florida, heroin overdose deaths jumped from 48 to 108 between 2010 and 2012—a 125% increase.4 “To prevent drug switching and minimize illicit drug use overall, it’s critical to provide existing opioid abusers with access to detox and drug rehab programs,” Runyon concluded.

Novus offers medically supervised opiate and opioid treatment programs—from oxycodone detox to heroin withdrawal—that employ proven medical protocols and cutting-edge detox technology. The Florida-based drug treatment facility provides individually customized treatment programs with 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists for an easier detox and a successful recovery.



  1. Rutkow, Lainie; Hsien-Yen Chang; et al. “Effect of Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and Pill Mill Laws on Opioid Prescribing and Use”; JAMA Internal Medicine; October 2015.
  2. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “Florida Law Enforcement Prescription Drug Efforts Produce Positive Results”; DEA press release; January 30, 2012.
  3. Office of the Attorney General of Florida. “Pill Mill Initiative”; accessed October 14, 2015.
  4. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Decline in Drug Overdose Deaths After State Policy Changes — Florida, 2010–2012; July 4, 2014.
  5. Florida Department of Health. E-FORCSE: 2013-2014 Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Annual Report; December 1, 2014.
  6. Brumback, Kate. “Georgia Lawmakers OK Crackdown on So-Called Pill Mills”; The Washington Examiner; March 21, 2013.