Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse: Pain Clinic Regulation Postcard


Drug overdose was the leading cause of injury-related death among Americans in 2012­. Approximately 114 people died each day. Prescription drugs were linked to more than half of these deaths. In addition, about 1.4 million emergency department visits in 2011 were related to pharmaceutical abuse or misuse. Some states have created specific laws to regulate pain clinics in an attempt to control inappropriate prescribing of prescription pain killers and reduce the burden of abuse, while maintaining access to pharmaceuticals.

Pain clinics are facilities that specialize in assisting patients with treatment of chronic pain, a condition that affects 100 million adult Americans, according to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine. If pain clinics prescribe pharmaceuticals based primarily on financial gain rather than medical need, it can lead to over-prescribing and misuse of prescription drugs.

As of 2013, 11 states had enacted legislation to regulate pain clinics. These laws may include some of the following components:

  • Definitions of pain clinics and pain management, including exemptions from regulation.
  • Requirements for registration, certification or licensing, and staff qualifications or training.
  • Requirements to designate individuals to take operational responsibility for clinics.
  • Restrictions on prescribing or dispensing certain substances.
  • Requirements for access and use of states’ Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.
  • Requirements for clinics’ physical appearance.
  • Inspection requirements or procedures.
  • Requirements for records and data collection.
  • Penalties for violations.

Sources:  National Conference of State Legislatures, Prescription Drug Overdose: Strategies for Prevention; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Signs, Prescription Drug Overdose, Prevention Status Report; National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, Prescription Drug Abuse, Addiction and Diversion: Overview of State Legislative and Policy Initiatives.



United States map of pain clinic laws, 2013