Just six weeks after lawmakers passed House Bill 178, the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act, Governor Nathan Deal signed it into law. As of July 1, 2013 illegal pain clinics have to set up shop elsewhere.
For those of you who don’t know what this means let me explain. Illegal pain clinics (commonly referred to as “Pill Mills”) have been extremely problematic to our state, especially since 2011 when Florida and other southern states cracked down on these clinics by enacting tough regulations. Consequently, those illegal clinics shut down in those states and set up in GA.
According to estimates from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency, there were fewer than 10 pill mills in the state in 2010. Unfortunately, that number has exploded since then, fluctuating between 90 and 140 over the last year.
Obviously, there are legitimate pain clinics that treat patients for chronic pain, but the illegal operations are supplying addicts and drug dealers with large amounts of oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are highly addictive.
The new regulations clearly defines a pain clinic as a medical enterprise where at least half of the patient population is being treated for chronic pain. Affected businesses will have to get a state license beginning in July; licenses will have to be renewed every two years.
Most importantly, the new law requires new pain clinics to be owned by physicians licensed in Georgia. One of the biggest problems with the illegal pain clinics is they are owned by non-physicians, including convicted felons.
We want to thank Representative Tom Weldon for his hard work in sponsoring this bill, which was three years in the making. We are excited about this new law and we are confident it will contribute to our plight to prevent Georgia’s youth and young adults from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.