Editorial: Cracking down on ‘pill mills’

From the Wheeling News-Register:

One might have thought a pharmacy in Boone County, W.Va., that for a decade filled prescriptions for pain pills averaging nearly a million a year would have raised eyebrows at the state Board of Pharmacy. Apparently not, to judge by the agency’s lapses for several years in helping to battle the substance abuse epidemic.

Earlier this year, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office filed a lawsuit against the pharmacy, alleging it “blindly” filled prescriptions that should have been viewed as suspicious. The action was part of an ongoing campaign by Morrisey’s office to crack down on “pill mills.”

But for a few years, the pharmacy board was not doing its share. Earlier this year, it was revealed the agency was not enforcing its own rules requiring wholesale companies to report suspiciously large shipments of controlled substances to pharmacies.

Merely having such reports could have given other state agencies such as Morrisey’s a head-start in cracking down on the pill mills.

Since the board’s failure was reported, officials there have spent several months devising a system for wholesalers to report suspicious shipments of drugs. Now, the agency has dismissed its executive director, David Potters.

Though board officials would not discuss reasons for Potters’ departure, the timing would seem to indicate it may have had something to do with failure on his watch to enforce the reporting rules.

If so, good. Let us hope the new director, a former State Police trooper, will take the war on drug abuse more seriously. Legislators and Gov. Jim Justice should be watching to ensure that happens. Curbing the epidemic will require that all hands be on deck.

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