MANDEVILLE, La. -- Illegal pain management clinics are being targeted at the St. Tammany Parish Council meeting Thursday night.
The council is starting the process of extending a long-standing effort to prevent the questionable businesses from opening there.
In 2005, the council made a move to help law enforcement tackle illegal pain management clinics, as authorities cracked down on the industry.
The move was a ban on building and occupancy permits for centers handing out pills without a proven affiliation with a hospital or hospice service. Today, that moratorium is still alive and headed for another six-month renewal.
'The good thing about every six months is, it got your attention, it gets other people's attention and it lets them know if they're leaning toward illegal drugs or to sell illegal drugs, we in St. Tammany Parish don't tolerate that,' said Councilman Jerry Binder, who pushed for the first ban.
The people who are on the front lines of this fight with prescription medications, authorities, say this has helped them tremendously in doing their jobs, and the numbers show it.
'In 2006, we had 76 people die from drug overdoses in St. Tammany Parish to 34 in 2011,' said St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain, 'And each year showing a steady decline is evidence and proof itself.'
Narcotics cases involving pills have also dropped, leaving authorities to hone in on a different drug industry.
'By the Parish Council putting this moratorium, it allowed us to put the focus on some of the more illicit drugs, the cocaines, the marijuanas, all of the other drugs we have to combat as well,' said Strain.
The moratorium extension is scheduled for introduction at tonight's meeting and should be approved next month.