They formed the group in the midst of sorrow.
After Renee buried a son.
After Joyce watched her daughter relapse.
After Janet rocked an addicted infant to sleep in a hospital ward.
Three women, all healthcare professionals, each bringing her own tragic perspective to South Florida’s pill-mill crisis, banded together last year to form an advocacy group to force the closing of rogue pain clinics and ban the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone. Most of all, they want an end to the overdoses and funerals.
It is a mission born from personal experiences in Broward County, the capital of the prescription black market and a popular destination for pill poppers and pushers. In practical terms, it has meant three friends joining forces to demand stronger laws from legislators, taking their cause to the streets by holding monthly rallies outside suspect pain clinics. They are the faces behind the e-mails, the letters, the hand-lettered picket signs, the organization they named STOPP NOW — Stop the Organized Pill Pushers.
And they are mothers, torn between the emptiness of loss and outrage toward a government they believe hasn’t done enough.
“Every day, we are losing our children,’’ says Renee Doyle, 57, a licensed practical nurse whose son died in an oxycodone-related car accident 15 months ago. “They are addicted to these pain pills and they are not your loved ones anymore. They are lost and you just don’t know if you will ever get them back.’’
Each day in Florida, seven people on average take a fatal dose of prescription drugs. Over the years, lax regulation has helped to create a landscape of storefront pain clinics operating in nondescript shopping plazas, dispensing millions of pills with little — or no — medical reason. In Broward alone, more than one million pills are dispensed every month, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. And most mornings, dozens of buyers line up outside the county’s 130 clinics. They leave in vehicles with tags from Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and other eastern states, with pills to use and resell. In the first half of 2010 alone, doctors in Florida doled out nine times more oxycodone than in the rest of the entire United States during the same time frame.
Read the complete story at miamiherald.com