Florida’s Drug and Pill Mills Law Reduced Opioids Prescriptions

Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor
Department of Health Policy and Management
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Rutkow: Rates of prescription drug diversion and misuse, as well as overdose deaths, have increased throughout the United States. CDC estimates that each day, 44 people die from a prescription drug overdose. In the mid-2000s, Florida was viewed as the epicenter of this epidemic, with prescription drug overdose deaths increasing more than 80% from 2003 to 2009. In response, Florida enacted several laws to mitigate prescription drug abuse and diversion. Its pill mill law required pain management clinics to register with the state and prohibited physician dispensing of certain drugs. Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) collects data about dispensing of prescription drugs and can be accessed by physicians and pharmacists. Little is known about how these laws have affected prescribing of opioids.

We applied comparative interrupted time series analyses to pharmacy claims data to examine four outcomes related to opioid prescribing in Florida, with Georgia as a comparison state. We found that in the first year of implementation, Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and pill mill law were associated with modest reductions in prescription opioid volume, prescriptions written, and the dose per prescription. These declines were statistically significant among the highest volume prescribers and patients at baseline.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Rutkow: Our findings suggest that policy responses to the prescription drug epidemic – such as Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and pill mill laws – are viable options. Most prescribers are supportive of policies that limit access to opioids. Given this support, along with our findings, other states may want to consider implementing both a PDMP and a pill mill law.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Rutkow: While our study looked at the first year of implementation for these laws, future research should consider their longer-term effects.


Rutkow L, Chang H, Daubresse M, Webster DW, Stuart EA, Alexander G. Effect of Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and Pill Mill Laws on Opioid Prescribing and Use. JAMA Intern Med.Published online August 17, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3931.

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Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH (2015). Florida’s Drug and Pill Mills Laws Reduced Opioids Prescriptions

Last Updated on November 4, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD