Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that state, local, and federal officials served a search warrant on a suspected “pill mill” in Ironton.

Members of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and special prosecutions unit joined the Ironton Police Department, Lawrence County Drug Task Force, Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office, Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Pharmacy Board, Ohio State Medical Board, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in serving the warrant at Pinnacle Wellness and Longevity Center, 407 South Third Street, Suite B, Tuesday morning.

“Prescription drugs can be just as addictive as street drugs like heroin or cocaine, and we’ve found that some medical offices take advantage of that,” DeWine said. “Right now we are investigating to find out if that has been happening here.”

DeWine said authorities have been investigating the location for more than a year.

DeWine said no one has been charged in connection with the ongoing investigation at this time, and copies of any seized patient files were left with the clinic, which remains open.

Tuesday’s search warrant comes one day after DeWine joined 47 other state and territorial attorneys general to urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt standards requiring manufacturers and marketers of generic prescription painkillers to develop tamper-and abuse-resistant versions of their products.

“Some producers of name-brand versions of painkillers have taken steps to make it more difficult to abuse their drugs, and we are hoping the makers of the generic versions will do the same thing,” DeWine said.

He said adding new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids can deter abuse and reduce misuse and accidental death.

Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the United States, exceeding even motor vehicle deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unintentional drug overdoses kill an average of four Ohioans each day.

Upon taking office in 2011, Attorney General DeWine made the fight against prescription drug abuse a priority. In that time, those with the Attorney General’s Office have been involved in the permanent license revocation of more than two dozen doctors and pharmacists who improperly prescribed prescription medication, the conviction of 13 doctors, pharmacists, traffickers and associates, and the seizure of more than $1.67 million worth of prescription pills.

DeWine came to Scioto County several times to personally take part in raids that resulted in the shut down of what were known as pain clinics and the revocation of several of the physicians involved in those establishments’ licenses. Some have been tried and sentenced to prison. Eventually, all 11 pain clinics in Scioto County were closed.

DeWine also partnered with the Ohio Department of Health and the Drug Free Action Alliance to provide free prescription drug collection bins to law enforcement agencies across the state as part of their newly established Ohio Prescription Drug Drop Box Program.

A list of prescription drug drop box locations is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com.

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