No one would say it's bad news when law enforcement shuts down a pill mill. And it is really hard to muster much sympathy for people like Paul Boccone. He owned a pain clinic and was never licensed to provide medical services. But that didn’t stop him and his employees from handing out a lot of scripts.
According to court documents submitted prior to his arrest, one patient was given access to more than 14,000 oxycodone-based pills.
In the press release issued when he was convicted, the Virginia AG states evidence showed that at least four patients died of overdoses related to scripts they received from his clinic. He faces a maximum of 350 years in prison. We don’t think he’ll serve out the full term.
But for doctors running legitimate pain management practices within a few hundred miles of a pill mill, these busts can be a short-term and a long-term headache.
Short term, there’s going to be a flood of patients seeking relief from withdrawal symptoms.
Long term, legislators will queue up at the soap box and push for laws that don’t impact bad actors, but make it harder for real doctors to practice.
What can you do? A few things:
Keep an eye on news about pill mills in your state and surrounding states. A report on Boccone’s arrest notes people were travelling over 300 miles to the business.
Keep an eye on what’s going on in your area. We aren’t fans of ratting people out, but when Big Joe’s Pain Hut opens in your neighborhood and starts doing a brisk business, you might want to have a word with local authorities.
Keep an eye on proposed regulations at the local and state level. The average lawmaker isn’t a doctor. Be ready to offer comments and testimony in the event someone tries to pass a law that will make it harder for you to provide the care your patients need.