The Sunshine States fight against prescription-drug abuse and pill mills could be getting a bit of help from the federal government.
On Tuesday, two U.S. senators -- Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill. -- announced they are sponsoring The Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011, which was introduced by Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., earlier in the year.
The proposed legislation would direct money seized from pill mill operators to be used for drug treatment, increase fines and sentences for those convicted of running pill mills and change standards, making hydrocodone drugs -- for example,Vicodin -- harder to obtain.
"I am thrilled to have Senator Manchin and Senator Kirk join me in this bipartisan effort to crack down on prescription drug abuse nationwide," Buchanan said in a statement. "Pill mills have turned my home state of Florida into the nation's warehouse for deadly narcotics ... claiming seven lives a day. Now, more than ever, we need to shut down these so-called pain clinics that bring untold misery to our children, our families, and our communities."
In a statement released by Manchin, the senator talked about how prescription drug abuse was impacting the Mountain State.
"Drug abuse is devastating communities in my state, whether it's preventing employers from being able to hire or tearing families apart. Today, in my state, I held a round-table discussion on drugs and our economy and we brought together folks on all sides of the issue: treatment, education, law enforcement, prevention, business and labor," Manchin said.
"We all agreed that prescription-drug abuse is one of the biggest problems plaguing our communities and our nation, and I pledged to take the common-sense ideas and values that were shared back to Washington to help solve this national epidemic. And this bipartisan piece of legislation is the kind of idea that will help make sure our employers can get back to hiring and the people of West Virginia and America can have strong, drug-free communities."
"Prescription-drug abuse is rising. Drug fatalities have surpassed motor vehicle deaths, largely due to prescription drug overdoses," Kirk said in a statement. "This bipartisan legislation makes common-sense reforms to the Controlled Substances Act that will help save lives from prescription drug overdoses. I am pleased to join Senator Manchin and our House colleagues, Congressmen Buchanan and Markey, in introducing this bill."
"Doctors earn their medical licenses to prescribe drugs, not to peddle them. Yet 'pill mills' are spurring an epidemic of prescription-drug abuse in communities, doctor's offices, and homes across the country," Markey said.
"This bipartisan legislation will help curb the growing problem of prescription-drug abuse by cracking down on the health-care providers who prescribe medically unnecessary painkillers. The bill will also support law enforcement officials on the front lines of this battle to identify pill mills and shut them down. I thank Senators Manchin and Kirk for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with them to pass this critical legislation that will save lives across the country."
Buchanan weighed in on Twitter on Tuesday over the extent of the pill mill crisis in the Sunshine State. Florida has more pain clinics than McDonald's/Burger King restaurants, noted Buchanan.
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