LEBANON, Ohio — Authorities trying to crack down on prescription painkiller abuse at home say they are being stymied by so-called drug tourists, people traveling to states like Florida and Georgia where drugs are easier to get.
Investigators say these prescription tourists thwart local efforts to combat the illegal sale of painkillers and to treat addicts by bringing huge volumes of drugs in from outside.
Prescription tourists are based in a variety of states, but investigators in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia, where authorities have already cracked down on local pill mills — are among the busiest trying to track trips to Florida, Georgia, and elsewhere.
It involves drug dealers sending underlings to states with pill mills where they load up on painkillers, then return to sell the drugs to addicts willing to pay as much as $100 a pill, or as much as 10 times the drugstore price.
Cracking down on the trade requires complicated prosecutions crossing multiple states.
Florida was a popular spot for years because of its virtually unregulated pain clinic industry, which provided access to thousands of painkillers marketed by names like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet.
As Florida cracked down on its pill mills, the clinics migrated to states including Georgia, which had practically none three years ago and now has as many as 150, said Richard Allen, director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency.