Lone Star State takes aim at 'pill mills'

Lone Star State takes aim at 'pill mills'

par Astrid Fiano, DOTmed News Writer | September 09, 2010
The Texas Medical Board has begun registration for pain management clinics, instituting requirements from a Texas law that became effective the beginning of September. A pain management clinic in the state can no longer operate without a certificate from the board.

A pain management clinic is defined by the Texas Administrative Code as a publicly or privately owned facility for which a majority of patients are issued, on a monthly basis, a prescription for opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or carisoprodol. The board states in one of its bulletins that the new regulation addresses the problem of "pill mills," which indiscriminately dispense prescriptions for pain medication without serious concern for patient safety. Although pain medications are important for treating legitimate pain, the Administrative Code notes that non-therapeutic drug therapy may lead to or contribute to abuse and addiction of the drugs.

According to the regulation, a pain management clinic medical director must practice in the state; have an active, unrestricted medical license; and hold a certificate of registration for that pain management clinic. The owner/operator of a pain management clinic, employees or contractors for services to the clinic may not have been denied a license to prescribe/administer a controlled substance or have held a license to prescribe/administer a controlled substance that has been restricted. In addition, the owners, employees and contractors cannot have been subject to disciplinary action by any licensing entity for conduct regarding inappropriately prescribing/administering a controlled substance; and an owner cannot have had a conviction or plea relating to a criminal offense involving distribution of illegal prescription drugs or a controlled substance.

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Each clinic requires a separate certificate. The medical director of the clinic must ensure annually that all personnel are properly licensed, trained and qualified for employment. The certificates will be valid for two years.

Exceptions to the registration are made for some facilities, including medical or dental schools and the schools' outpatient clinics; hospitals; hospices; and nonprofit health organizations.

More on the registration may be found at http://www.tmb.state.tx.us/professionals/physicians/licensed/painManagementClinicRegistration.php