ABC Action News Video on fingerprinting customers

A new proposal by law enforcement would make Florida the first state to require customers to be fingerprinted when picking up certain drugs at pharmacies. Supporters say it's necessary to fight the state's massive prescription drug abuse problem, but others say it is an invasion of privacy.

Members of law enforcement are proposing a new idea to combat Florida’s prescription drug abuse problem: require fingerprints from people getting certain medications at pharmacies.

The proposal is only at an early stage. If approved, pharmacies would be asked to take thumbprints from those receiving schedule II drugs, which include oxycodone and methadone.

The illegal abuse of prescription drugs is Florida’s “greatest public health threat," according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The agency reports that seven people die in the state every day due to prescription drug abuse.

One of the biggest problems, according to law enforcement, is the number of 'pill mills' -- clinics where doctors prescribe pain medications to people without medical necessity.

ABC Action News researched the number of pain clinics operating in the state, and found that Florida currently has more pain clinics than McDonald’s or Burger King restaurants .

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there are 1,167 registered pain clinics in the state. The Florida Department of Health reports that according to their most current records, there are 861 registered clinics in the state as of Feb. 28.

The number of pain clinics provided by FDLE and Florida's Department of Health does not even include unregistered operations that are selling pills illegally. FDLE currently has 38 active investigations into pain clinics suspected of operating as pill mills.

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