House Bill 178 is intended to crack down on “pill mills,” companies that are not doctor owned by that give out pain medicine.
Even though none have been reported in Floyd County, last year Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and his staff removed signs in the county advertising the clinics from other counties.
“I have voiced my support for that bill,” Burkhalter said. “As it stands now, even a convicted felon can open up a pill mill. The only ones who can’t are doctors who have been disciplined by the board (of physicians).
In March 2011, Gordon County deputies and state officials raided Advance Wellness on Curtis Parkway in Gordon County, seizing about 200,000 pills.
If the bill, sponsored by Ringgold Republican Tom Weldon, passes the Senate, any new pain clinics will have to be physician-owned if they open after June 30.
A similar bill died on the final day of the General Assembly last year after it passed both the House and Senate because of disagreements between the two chambers.
A pain clinic is defined in the bill as a medical enterprise where at least half of the patient population is being treated for chronic pain.
The bill is not intended to target prescriptions for patients nearing the end of life because of terminal illness or drugs issued to manage short-term pain associated with injuries or specific medical procedures.
Affected businesses would have to get a state license from the Georgia Composite Medical Board. The board already licenses physicians in the state. Licenses would have to be renewed every two years.
In January, a federal grand jury indicted Florida-based owners and a Duluth physician for using a Lilburn pain clinic to sell narcotics to addicts and dealers. The indictment alleges that the owners were not medical professionals and that they directed a physician employee to write prescriptions to customers who were not legitimate patients. Many of the recipients live outside Georgia, according to the government’s case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report