The pill mills of Florida have generally been the primary focus of a of media attention. However, we’ve seen some big OxyContin related busts in the southland of California as well:
Smuggling Ring Took Pills Into Mexico
Newport Coast Doctor Gets 230 Year Sentence
Rowland Hights Dr. Tseng – Doctor of Death Sued by Family of Overdose Victim
This week Los Angeles has some news on the Oxy Crackdown because four medical clinics that were suspected of illegally dispensing prescriptions were raided.
Investigators determined that the San Fernando Valley clinics have been operating as pill mills, catering to addicts seeking narcotic painkillers and other prescription drugs. The raids were carried out by local, state and federal investigators from the LAPD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the California Department of Justice, the IRS and the FBI.
The investigation was prompted by several recent overdoses in the area, including the overdose death of a 51-year-old man who had obtained prescriptions for several different medications from one of the clinics. Pharmacy bottles from the clinics have been found in the possession of drug suspects arrested in Washington, Arizona and several other states. Additionally, pharmacists from California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah and Arizona have registered complaints about the high number of prescriptions they have been seeing from the clinics.
Investigators searched the home of the manager of two of the clinics and confiscated $300,000 in cash and 300,000 OxyContin pills. The manager, identified as Anush Davtyan, is suspected of planning to sell the medication on the black market for $30 to $80 per pill. Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Steve Opferman reports that most of the criminal activity that the clinics are accused of involved OxyContin.
According to investigators, no physical exams took place at the clinics. Addicts were charged several hundred dollars for prescriptions for OxyContin as well as codeine and promethazine (a prescription cough syrup). A former clinic customer told investigators that clinic doctors would spend about two minutes with each client. A urine test would be performed but no blood tests. Doctors would then write prescriptions for whatever drugs the client requested.
In addition to writing illegal prescriptions, the clinics are accused of several types of fraud. Some of the illegal prescriptions that were dispensed by the clinics used stolen Medicare information. Medicare was also billed for treatments that were never performed. The signatures of two doctors who once worked for the clinics but have since died were found on many of the prescriptions. In addition, the clinics are also suspected of committing identity theft involving people who had obtained prescriptions.