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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Last Pill Mill: A New Beginning

On the morning of December 20, Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy and Scioto County officials have shut down what they say is the last pill mill in Scioto County. Let me repeat:

The last pill mill in Scioto County has been shut down!

"Law enforcement agents served search warrants at Greater Medical Advance, on Ohio River Road, Tuesday morning. They also served warrants at the clinic doctor's residence, and the clinic owner's residence.

"Investigators say 14,000 prescriptions for narcotics came out of Greater Medical Advance in nine months. The clinic was only open 36 hours a week and had only one doctor.

"A Scioto County Grand Jury has indicted Dr. Victor Andrei Georgescu, the clinic operator, and George Marshall Adkins, the clinic owner, on counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy to engage in corrupt activity, funding drug trafficking and permitting drug abuse." ("Wheelersburg Pain Clinic Raided; Four Face Charges," WSAZ News,, December 20 2011)

Dr. Volkman - the start of a lot of our pain.

Just a couple of years ago, a group of professionals from many fields and some other concerned citizens formed a group called The Scioto County Rx Drug Action Team to combat a growing health epidemic largely caused by prescription drug abuse. At one time, ten pain clinics, commonly known as "pill mill" operations, illegally distributed prescriptions that promoted patient drug addiction and doctor shopping enterprises. Some of these operations even had in-house pharmacies to help lawbreakers aid attainment of large quantities of opiates.

Scioto County's pill mills provided easy access to criminals from Ohio and other states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee. Both drug dependents and dealers from all over the country flocked to the pill mills as a means to score drugs and make large sums of money. Scioto County became a Mecca for those seeking rx drugs and the epicenter of prescription drug addiction.

The county, with its outrageously high rate of distribution, experienced tremendous surges in overdose deaths, drug addictions, hepatitis infections, drug-related crimes, social disruptions, and births of addicted babies. The greedy owners of the pill mills and the unethical doctors who worked there fleeced the customers for millions of dollars -- dollars that directly caused irreparable pain and suffering throughout all Scioto communities.

As the rest of the country became aware of the epidemic in the county, the media took hold of the fascinating story of a type of quasi-legal addiction to rx drugs in small, rural Appalachian communities. As public knowledge of the problem grew, so did the movement to remove the pill mills. Many people formed grass roots efforts to further the cause as the local and State governments, medical boards and medical community, legislators, legal representatives, and interest groups began to apply pressure for better laws, better enforcement, and increased civic action.

The results of the work initiated by the action team have been amazing. Besides the obvious primary benefit of improving health in the county through the continuing fight against drug abuse, one of the other results of the movement has been the wide-spread interest of the rest of the nation in how a small, rural community can fashion and mobilize swift, effective community action.

People from everywhere wanted to know how Scioto was able to effect such positive change. College professors who teach sociology classes were inquiring about strategies used by the Action Team. Television hosts were curious about how progress was being accomplished. Other community organizations from all over the United States were constantly communicating with the Scioto Action Team about how to start similar programs. The Action Team worked through all of the following:

* Media -- local, State, and National -- reported on major group activities that encouraged involvement and action.

* SOLACE support group chapters were started all over Ohio to provide support to individuals and families affected by addiction.

* Facebook groups that networked with Fix the Scioto County Problem of Drug Abuse group were established.

* Close connections and work with lawmakers and officials such as county commissioners, city council members, local judges, prosecuting attorneys, State Representatives, State Senators, Ohio Senators, the Pharmacy Board, the Medical Board, the Attorney General, the Governor of Ohio, and the National Drug Czar were initiated.

* Interaction and leadership from local churches and Christian organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Apostolic Coalition were employed.

* Drug education and research by organizations such as The Counseling Center, the Portsmouth Health Department, the Needle Exchange Program, and SOLACE was offered to local schools and community groups.

* Higher education resources and representatives from the University of Cincinnati, the Ohio State University, and Shawnee State University were employed.

* Grants were obtained and help was provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

* Drug counselors, rehab professionals, and renowned journalists were summoned.

* Local high school Youth Ambassadors were chosen and trained as educational and motivational resources.

* Connections with police departments, sheriff departments, and the Ohio State Patrol were strengthened and encouraged.

* Cooperation and programming with neighboring states such as Kentucky and West Virginia was established.

The list goes on and on. And, even though this amazing Pill Mill Free Day has come, the Action Team understands that their commitment has become permanent -- as it must be to provide continued effective improvement. This is a day the Action Team has been working toward for a long time. Today, the team celebrates the end of Scioto pill mills.

This means one of its greatest enemies has been defeated, probably the most egregious and wicked one. More stand in the way of a healthy Scioto County, but the team now understands that the dedicated, concentrated work of a few can effect major changes that do benefit, and will continue to benefit, the health of untold numbers.

God bless our Scioto angels who have left this county to direct our work from heaven above. Thank you for guiding us to this beautiful day. And God bless anyone struggling with addiction -- this includes the yet to be born. Let the light shine ever brighter, Father. Let's get back to work, Action Team.

“Just 'cause you got the monkey off your back 
doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”  
— George Carlin
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