PTC may ban 'pain management clinics' for 1 year
City staff is asking that the Peachtree City Council tonight ban a specific type of business, so-called “pain management clinics,” based on the theory that they are responsible for the disreputable dispensing of narcotics prescriptions.
The ban would forbid such existing businesses, as described in the ordinance, from renewing their occupational tax license. It also would forbid new pain management clinics from getting an occupational tax license. The item was added Dec. 1 to the council's Dec. 2 meeting agenda at the request of city staff, according to the information packet for the meeting.
Without the city-issued license, a business cannot legally operate in the city. According to a memo from city staff, a person wishing to open a business or medical practice that would prescribe pain medications would be required to provide a signed, notarized statement that the business is not a pain management clinic as defined in the resolution.
The proposed moratorium would last for one calendar year, giving staff time to “analyze the impact of pain management clinics and consider whether further regulation is necessary.”
The city defines a pain management clinic as one that “employs one or more physicians who are primarily engaged in the treatment of pain by prescribing pain medications” and is not affiliated with any facility for the treatment of the terminally ill, any facility that treats patients with drug addictions, or any hospice or hospital.
A proposed resolution for council to consider notes that a business is also a pain management clinic if it fills or dispenses such pain medications at the same location or a different location, unlike most regular physicians who write prescriptions to be filled at local pharmacies.
The resolution further defines pain medicine as any prescription medication that contains narcotic analgesics or opiods, including fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine or oxycodone.
While the proposed resolution cites a grand jury report from Broward County, Florida that attributed a significant spike in oxycodone prescriptions in 2008 that were attributed to some 115 pain clinics operating in that county, there are no local statistics to determine if that trend is occurring locally due to any “pain management clinic” that might be operating in Peachtree City.
In Broward County in the last months of 2008, some 6.5 million dose units were prescribed in Broward County alone, compared to 2.5 million dose units for the rest of the entire state.
Last month, CBS Atlanta published a story citing an undercover investigation it conducted into several pain management clinics, including Atlanta Back and Spine Institute on Prime Point.
The CBS Atlanta report quoted a recovering drug addict saying he supported his 15-year drug habit by visiting “pill mills” in Georgia and Florida, which make pain pills easy to get as long as the patient has an MRI report and a pharmacy report, both of which it was alleged can be easily purchased illegally.
The addition of the proposed resolution was added to the City Council’s agenda late Wednesday morning.