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Politics

Bondi, Aronberg Aim to Shut Down 'Pill Mills'

January 4, 2011 - 6:00pm

Calling Florida "the drug supplier for the rest of the country," former state Sen. Dave Aronberg is leading Attorney General Pam Bondi's fight against "pill mills."

Aronberg, a Greenacres Democrat, was selected by Bondi, a Republican, based on his long-running battle against the abuse of prescription drugs.

"Attorney General Bondi and I both believe that public safety isn't a partisan issue.Florida has become the drug supplier for the rest of the country, and with seven Floridians a day dying from prescription drug abuse, urgent action is needed," Aronberg told Sunshine State News.

Aronberg, who ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in the Democratic primary, worked on the prescription drug abuse issue for a decade, since he was an assistant attorney general under Bob Butterworth investigating the makers of Oxycontin.

"I am excited about returning to my old office to help save lives, and I credit Pam Bondi for making this crisis a top priority of her administration," Aronberg said.

Former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, one of Bondi's opponents in the GOP primary, also listed pill mills as his No. 1 concern.

Pill mills have attracted increased attention amid a rising death toll. A 2010 report by the state Office of Drug Control called abuse of prescription drugs "the major public health and safety problem facing Florida.

"The number of deaths caused by at least one prescription drug increased from 1,234 in 2003 to 2,488 in 2009 (a 102 percent increase)," the report stated. "This translates to seven Floridians dying per day."

Data from the 2009 National Prescription Drug Threat Assessment confirm that misuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing trend in drug abuse.

"Florida has become the epicenter for the availability of illegally diverted prescription drugs," according to the state report."Pill mills have sprung up throughout the state, with a heavy concentration located in South Florida."

Pill mills are described in the report as doctor's offices or health-care facilities that "routinely collude in the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances outside the scope of the prevailing standards of medical practices."

The 2010 report concluded that the state's prescription drug system is "broken." Bondi agrees.

It is unacceptable that Florida has become the nations pill mill capital and that multiple Floridians are dying every day from illegal prescription drug abuse. In cooperation with federal, state and local law enforcement, we will use all the powers and resources of the Attorney Generals Office in a comprehensive effort to eradicate pill mills from our state, Bondi said.

After getting to know Dave last year, I quickly learned that we share a strong commitment to shutting down pill mills. I have complete trust in Dave's ability to take on this very important fight with me, Bondi said.

Aronberg served from 2002 to 2010 in the Florida Senate, where he advocated for legislation to establish a prescription drug database and for stricter regulation of ownership and operation of pain clinics.

The 39-year-old Aronberg is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

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Reach Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

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