New laws aimed at slowing the rate of prescription drug overdoses and the illegal drug trade may already be having a fairly significant effect. These new laws first took effect on September 1, only two months ago. But the Houston Chronicle is already reporting improvements.
According to their report, prescriptions of three specific drugs, known collectively as the “holy trinity” and sometimes the “Houston Cocktail”, have plummeted in Houston and statewide. A total of 6,143 prescriptions for the drugs have been written in Houston since the law change, that’s down from 10,989 during the same period last year.
The three drugs in question are hydrocodone, alprazolam, and carisoprodol. They were a contributing factor in a large number of prescription drug overdoses and accidental pill deaths.
The new laws apply particularly to clinics who prescribe medications to more than 50% of their patients. They were designed to hurt pill mills while leaving legitimate medical clinics alone. Among the regulations:
- Such clinics must register with the medical board,
- Clinics must be owned by a Texas physician who is there for at least 33% of operating hours,
- The Texas Medical Board has a right to inspect clinics,
- Owners cannot have a felony record or a misdemeanor drug conviction,
- Owners cannot have faced sanctions by agencies involving drugs,
- Clinic staff must be fully trained and qualified, and
- Records must be kept of services rendered.
Houston isn’t the only metro area dealing with the problems of prescription drug fraud and addiction. This same trend is present across Texas and across the country. Cities are scrambling to find ways to control the prescription drug trade without infringing on legitimate medical practices and the legitimate pain management needs of patients.
The bottom line is that if you are using prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed to you, delivering your prescription for others to use, or operating a vehicle while under the influence of a prescription drug, you could face criminal charges.
You don’t have to be a “pill mill” doctor to go down for a prescription drug offense.
Luckily, if you are charged with a drug crime and this is your first offense, you may be lucky enough to qualify for a diversion program. If you’re in Harris County or another of Texas’ heavily populated areas, drug courts can often work to your benefit as well.
The first step in getting a positive outcome in your case is consulting with a criminal defense attorney. Contact our offices today for a free consultation on your case.