Philly moving to give city powers over ‘pill mills’

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A Philadelphia City Council committee has approved a bill designed to crack down on “pill mills” where doctors hand out prescription drugs loosely. 

Residents in several Philadelphia neighborhoods complain that doctors are essentially selling pain pills from their offices.

Councilman Mark Squilla says the signs of a pill mill are armed guards and plenty of cash changing hands.

“They are licensed doctors that are working for an entity or business created by a non-medical professional,” Squilla said. “We even had one that worked out of a pawn shop.”

The bill gives the Department of Licenses and Inspections power to shut down such offices proving to be a “nuisance” to neighbors and report their activities to state and federal authorities for further investigation.

Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez says pharmacies need oversight too, though it’s not included in this legislation.

“I have 12 pharmacies between Germantown Avenue and Kensington on Lehigh Avenue, and some of them are just open two hours a day and their clients know when they are open, no one else does, but they do,” she said.

An attorney for the health department says if the bill is approved other municipalities will be watching to see how it works out.

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