Monday, November 21, 2011

Georgia trying to control pill mills  |

Currently, local or federal investigators spend months building a criminal case against pain clinic operators — often employing wiretaps and undercover agents — before businesses can be shuttered.

While there are plenty of legitimate pain clinics affiliated with hospitals and hospices, pill mills are distinctly different operations that dole out scores of narcotics such as oxycodone and Xanax.

Pill mills, like the suspected one in Stockbridge, frequently advertise their services on billboards and roadside signs. Some keep security guards on staff to discourage unwelcome visitors.

Weldon said he called a phone number from a billboard just over the Tennessee line from his home district of Ringgold, and it rang back to a Georgia number. The lawmaker was asked why he was calling, where he was calling from and who he was, but nothing about his symptoms.

“All they wanted to know was, ‘When can you come in and see a doctor?’ ” Weldon said.

Many pill mills operate on a cash-only basis to avoid having their customer payments tracked. Henry County investigators say the Stockbridge pain center charged $350 on the first visit and $250 on subsequent ones to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone.

Undercover agents posing as patients allegedly were able to obtain pills on site without prescriptions.

Posted via email from Jack's posterous

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