Sebastian City Council passes law to limit pain clinic ownership

SEBASTIAN -The Sebastian City Council unanimously passed a law to prevent the proliferation of “pill mills” by requiring pain clinics be owned only by Florida licensed physicians who are board certified in pain management.

City Attorney Robert Ginsburg carefully went over details of the legislation at the council meeting this week, telling the council the new law will strengthen the emergency pain clinic measure already on the books.

“This (new) ordinance includes everything the old ordinance prohibited and then some,” he said.  “So, you’re making permanent what you had previously approved on an emergency basis.”

Ginsburg also told the council the new law will likely have to be amended in the future.

“As I indicated at the last meeting, this is one way of dealing with this problem — there is no silver bullet here,” he said.  “Either with this or some other (related) issues, we’ll have to address it in the future as well. The industry changes rapidly, and they probably move a lot faster than the governments do.”

The Florida Legislature passed a state law on pain clinics, but it has some flaws according to Ginsburg and does not take effect until October 1. The intent of the law is to allow legitimate clinics that manage pain for patients to operate, while shutting down the so-call “pill mills” that have popped up across the state handing out prescriptions for medication that often end up being sold on the street.

“Unfortunately the Legislature did not fund what they enacted, and there very well may be issues in the future,” said Ginsburg.  “If somebody comes in looking for a pharmacy, a doctor’s office, a professional office — I’m going to have those kinds of applications.  People who are applying for those will have to sign an affidavit with two columns.  One column will say ‘this is not a pain management clinic’ and they will sign that under oath.  The other column will say ‘it is a pain management clinic’ but it meets the exception in the ordinance that it be owned entirely by . . . and so forth.  Either one or the other has to be signed for them to be issued a business license to operate in the city.”

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