County bans new pain clinics for 90 days to curb drug trafficking

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Following suit after Sebastian and Vero Beach officials, the county commission Tuesday approved an emergency moratorium on new pain clinics for 90 days while County Attorney Alan Polackwich drafts a permanent legal solution to dovetail with state legislation.Distribution operations for highly addictive narcotics have opened up throughout Florida under the guise of “pain clinics” and Indian River County officials want to prevent the major social, financial and criminal problems this has caused in places like Broward County. To pass the moratorium without the usual public hearing process of approving an ordinance, the county was required to declare an emergency. This gives the legal staff the chance to do further research on other communities’ ordinances and also to see how legislation passed in Tallahassee will affect local jurisdictions.Commissioners laid out the goals for Polackwich to craft a permanent ordinance that would stop illegitimate pain clinics from entering the county by requiring that the clinic not only be wholly owned by physicians, but that the physician-owner be board certified by a nationally recognized professional accreditation organization. That board certification, according to beachside pain physician Dr. Harold Cordner, who spoke to commissioners on the issue, would require physicians to complete at least one year of an approved fellowship that would permit them to sit for the board examination.Cordner has worked with legislators and state regulators in Tallahassee to guide the legislation that was approved this session and which will begin to be phased in on Oct. 1. That legislation will require not only stricter regulation, but also monitoring of how pain clinics prescribe drugs and to whom.In response to questions from the dais, Cordner said the owners of the problem pain clinics are generally companies, not doctors, but that they contract with doctors for huge sums of money — sometimes $100,000 per month — to sign on as the clinic’s physician, lending their license to write prescriptions to the operation. Prescriptions for large quantities of popular street drugs are written to individuals who sometimes never appear at the office for an exam. Those individuals then illegally re-sell the drugs to people without a prescription, giving easy access to drugs like Oxycontin to those not necessarily taking it for chronic pain.The certification achieved by the pain management specialist, according to Cordner, is normally is good for 10 years and complaints against the doctor do not result in the yanking of the board certification.Chairman Peter O’Bryan voiced concern that illegitimate clinics could still get through the cracks in the proposed ordinance.”If I was offered $100,000 per month, I might take a class for one year to be able to get 10 years of $100,00 per month,” O’Bryan said.Commissioner Wesley Davis said he wanted to make sure that, in the county’s zealous pursuit against illegal pain clinics, that the ordinance it ends up with would still allow legitimate pain specialists to relocate to Indian River County and would not create a monopoly for the six doctors already established.”The standard for whatever ordinance we pass should be whether or not the doctors who are already here practicing would be able to under the new ordinance,” Davis said.Cordner said off the top of his head he thought that five of the six established pain specialists would qualify under the requirements the county is proposing.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment