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Texas Pain Clinic Law Cracks Down on Pill Mills

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 2, 2010

Texas seeks to eliminate so-called "pill mills," which sell powerful narcotics to patients without first giving them an exam, say officials from the Texas Medical Association.

If the Texas Medical Board becomes aware "of a pain management clinic that is doing business after Sept. 1 without a certificate, we will take action to shut the clinic down until it can meet the requirements of the law," said Mari Robinson, an attorney and TMB's executive officer, in an interview with the association's magazine Texas Medicine.

Physicians say that currently, the storefronts, which will now have to be certified under Texas law, "give legitimate pain management clinics and physicians a bad name, and put patients at risk."

Chris Shade, MD, a pain medicine specialist and past president of the Texas Pain Society, told the magazine that such pill mills are insulting to legitimate pain clinics. He said the storefronts in question commonly accept only cash, have only a storefront, no medical equipment, aren't owned by a doctor, don't conduct any medical procedures, don't keep patient records and often have crowds waiting to see the doctor.

According to the article, the new law applies to clinics that issue prescriptions for opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, or carisoprodol on a monthly basis for at least 50% of their patients. It allows medial board officials to inspect any pain management clinic to determine they are operating legally.

It also requires that legal clinics must be owned by Texas physicians, and that non-physician owners will have to sell those clinics to licensed physicians who meet criteria.

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