Commentary: Goodbye to the pill mills

Finally, the state will regulate pill mills that have operated in South Florida with virtually no oversight, which allowed a black market of prescription pain-killers to flourish, selling to dealers as far away as Massachusetts.

The new prescription-monitoring law, signed by Gov. Charlie Crist last week, closes loopholes that had exempted from state inspections those pain clinics that don't take insurance.

Incredibly, such clinics, which have proliferated over the past few years, were able to avoid background checks of their owners and employees -- even though such scrutiny is required at legitimate health clinics that take insurance.

For seven years lawmakers in Tallahassee resisted regulation, arguing it would be an assault on patient privacy. But as The Miami Herald's Scott Hiaasen reported in a series of articles this year, as many as 100 pain clinics have popped up in Broward County alone.

Last month, federal prosecutors handed down a racketeering indictment alleging members of the Bonanno organized crime familly were using pain clinics to sell drugs.

In effect, the lack of regulation was an invitation to drug dealers to come from all over the United States to stock up.

The abuses were so flagrant that some clinics even offered gas coupons so that drug dealers and addicts could hop in a car and come on down. Narcotics rings in West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Massachusetts were buying oxycodone and other painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs in Broward.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.