WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Palm Beach County has become Ground Zero in the battle against so-called pill mills. A summit today between local and state law enforcement and the medical community focused on the crackdown of unscrupulous prescription drug clinics.
Karen Perry was a panelist at the summit. She not only co-founded Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education, or NOPE, as it's called. She's also the mother of 21 year old Richard.
Richard died of an overdose of illegal and legal prescription drugs. Karen shares a picture of her with Richard at his cousin's wedding. That was the day her son told her he had a serious problem. She says, "We were in the middle of a conversation. He was telling me he was addicted to cocaine and that he needed help."
Despite treatment, Richard relapsed and ultimately died a year and a half later. Her devastation is the reason she spoke at the Prescription Drug Abuse and Pain Clinic Summit.
Ric Bradshaw, Palm Beach County's Sheriff, describes the challenge for law enforcement this way: "This is kind of like a chess game. Every time we make a move, the bad guys figure out a way to circumvent it."
House Bill 7095 will regulate the ability of pain clinics to dispense prescription drugs. While leaders wait to see if Florida Governor Rick Scott will sign the bill into law, legitimate pain clinics are expressing their concerns they might be unfairly targeted.
The pain prescription problem became so bad for independent pharmacist, Barry Paraizo, he put a sign up on his Lake Park Pharmacy. It says: "Don't ask! We do not carry oxys and roxys and xanax."
It's the summit's attention to helping the addict that Karen believes is critical to maybe saving others, who might also find themselves in Richard's situation.
She says, "We loved our son. There was nothing we wouldn't have done to help him or save him."