In 2012, Dr. Marc Valley got his first understanding of what a pill mill actually was. Turns out that the requirements for his then-new position as medical director of the Urgent Care & Surgery Center in eastern Tennessee basically read like this:
Duties include, but not limited to:
Monitoring professional drug dealers
Patients were barely being vetted, some didn't even have a diagnosis on their charts. However, they had the money and with that, addicts are able to purchase some powerful opioids.
By 2015, four pill mills, which are now shut down, had generated about $21 million in sales of over 12 million opioids. When authorities synced up the records, more than 700 patients had died, according to the LA Times.
“The opioid crisis wouldn’t be nearly as bad, where it is today, if it weren’t for pill mills like these,” said David Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and former police chief in Knoxville.
“Some doctors started to see money could be made from prescribing these pills, and they forgot or ignored their responsibility to do no harm.” The money was more important than health, apparently.
“They literally devastated communities. To understand the crisis, you have to understand the role these clinics played.”
This whole epidemic originated in Florida, the times reports. Some clinics like, the Hollywood, Fla. Urgent Care & Surgery Center, were charging $300 per appointment and filling prescriptions on average for $700.
Drug dealers were raking in nearly $4000 with this scam
As of 2017, more than 47,600 people have died due to opioid overdoses. This number is a 133% increase since the first Urgent Care & Surgery Center opened in Florida.