‘Pill mills’ giving rise to higher heroin use in N.J., report finds

TRENTON – Some criminals and corrupt physicians are running so-called “pill mills” out of some of the state’s most populated cities, according to a new report released Wednesday that investigated prescription pill and heroin abuse in the Garden State.

According to a two-year investigation by the State Commission of Investigation, illegal prescription pill sales have morphed from “street-corner drug-dealing into an orderly and seemingly ordinary business endeavor.” The report ties criminals with corrupt doctors in schemes that sometimes had links to organized crime.

The investigation uncovered one “flagrant scheme” in Newark that involved homeless Medicaid recipients being regularly transported to a so-called strip mall “medical center” in the city’s downtown where they were given erroneous prescriptions for powerful painkillers.

SCI found that increased access to highly addictive and potent prescription pills that contain opiates and opioids has “trigged a new and sustained rise” in heroin.

“We now live in a state where abuse of prescription pills serves increasingly as a primary route to the unlawful world of heroin, and intersection of the legitimate and the illicit that constitutes a crisis whose devastating consequences are plain for all to see,” the report reads.

“Even as law enforcement authorities, public‐health officials, social workers, treatment counselors, schools and families redouble their efforts to combat the purveyors and consequences of this predatory scourge, it continues to evolve in ways that few could have imagined when the so‐called war on drugs was launched more than four decades ago,” it continues.

The report, dubbed Scenes From an Epidemic, recommends stronger oversight in the medical community regarding prescription standards, as well as tougher penalties for prescription drug diversion.

SCI is scheduled to hold a news conference today to discuss the report’s findings.

 

‘Pill mills’ giving rise to higher heroin use in N.J., report finds