Shut Down ‘Pill Mills’ in W.Va.

The devastation caused by abuse of prescription drugs has been known for years in West Virginia. Doctors who write phony prescriptions and pharmacies filling them with no questions asked have helped our state become the worst-hit in the nation by the substance abuse epidemic.

Local, state and federal authorities have shut down many “pill mill” clinics and pharmacies — yet the problem persists.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency led raids on two pharmacies in Monongalia and Preston counties, and on the owner’s Morgantown home. There were no arrests and authorities did not disclose details, other than to say the raids were part of an investigation into pharmacy practices.

It is known that records and some controlled substances were removed during the raids.

Until more information is released, it would be premature to suggest the investigation involves abuse of controlled substances. Law enforcement agencies look into a variety of matters involving pharmacies, including simple business practices that do not involve providing drugs improperly.

Still, in the context of the substance abuse crisis in West Virginia, the raids are troubling. If the message has not yet gotten through to some health care professionals — that Mountain State residents are furious about the unscrupulous few who are fueling the epidemic — something is wrong.

If it takes constant pressure from law enforcement agencies and harsh sentence for wrongdoers, so be it. Distributing drugs illegally and under cover of legitimate businesses needs to be stamped out.

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