Increase in Doctors Facing Criminal Prosecution Related to Drug Abuse

Dr. Conrad Murray is currently facing trial for involuntary manslaughter for administering a powerful anesthetic that led to the death of Michael Jackson.  Murray is part of a growing trend of doctors who are criminally prosecuted for medical malpractice.  According to Reuters news service, fewer than 40 doctors faced criminal charges for malpractice between 1809 and 2000.  Since 2001, there have been at least 37 cases – almost as many as in the previous 200 years.

The majority of the cases since 2001 involved doctors who have overprescribed prescription painkillers and other controlled substances.  Many doctors have been charged under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, which allows prosecution of physicians who knowingly prescribe medication outside the usual course of professional practice or for non-medical purposes.
Prior to the case of Dr. Murray, the most famous prosecution of a doctor …

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Survey Finds Illegal Drug Use on the Rise

A new U.S. government survey has found that the abuse of illegal and prescription drugs is currently on the rise.  About 22.6 million people over the age of 12 used illegal drugs in 2010, representing a staggering 9% of the nation’s population.  This is up from 8% in 2008.
The 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health included 67,500 American aged 12 and above and covered the use of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens and some types of commonly abused prescription drugs.

These findings were released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
•    Marijuana tops the list of frequently used illicit drugs with a reported 17 million users.  This is an increase of 3 million users since 2007.
•    The nonmedical use of prescription drugs (including painkillers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives) was reported by 7 million …

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Frustration over Vicodin-Hydrocodone Classification

Hydrocodone, the key ingredient in Vicodin and other prescription medicines, is the second-most abused prescription drug in the nation (oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin and Percocet, is number one).  It has been linked to thousands of overdoses, including those of celebrities Heath Ledger and Brittany Murphy, and has been the cause of a flood of pharmacy robberies across the nation.  As states crackdown on oxycodone sales, people who are addicted to painkillers are turning to hydrocodone.  Earlier this summer a man gunned down four people in a New York pharmacy and walked out with 11,000 hydrocodone pills.

Despite the obvious addiction and overdose  danger associated with hydrocodone, Vicodin is also very damaging to the liver.  Still, federal regulators have been unable to decide that it’s time to tighten access to this drug. Since 1999, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration …

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Los Angeles OxyContin Pill Mills Raided

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 …

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Articles Highlight Oxy Epidemic in Southern Ohio

We were sent two recent articles about the Oxy epidemic in Ohio.

New York times: Ohio County Losing It’s Young to Painkillers’ Grip

Excerpt:

Such is life in Scioto County, a Southern Ohio county on the Ohio river where a prescription drug epidemic crosses all socioeconomic lines, wrecking young lives from ramshackle trailer parks to cushy suburban homes.

Excerpt:

Fueled in part by a half-dozen legally operating pain clinics that dot Scioto County, doling out an estimated 35 million pills a year…

Thirty five million pills a year prescribed in Scioto County?  A county with a population of 79,499 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).  That’s 440 pills per person (including babies, children, people who’ve never taken a prescription drug in their lives). Do you think we have an epidemic here?

Cleveland.com: Young Lives Wrecked by Prescription Drug Epidemic in Southern Ohio

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Positive News on the Opiate Crackdown in Ohio

In an article forwarded to us (6 men charged in Ohio Pill Mill Ring) , we see that Ohio is doing their part to crackdown on the OxyContin epidemic.  Authorities in Ohio are prosecuting six people involved in a pill mill in Waverly.  This is encouraging because you can read how unsavory the behaviors of the pill mill operators were:

The indictment alleges that the clinic was owned and operated by Nancy and Lester Sadler and Lisa Clevenger. The clinic operated as a “pill mill” by selling prescriptions for controlled substances (usually oxycodone), without a legitimate medical need for the prescriptions.

Many of the prescriptions were openly sold and diverted. Blank prescriptions forms were sold so the buyer could use or resell the prescriptions.

Additionally, the defendants allegedly created fake medical records and prescriptions for individuals who were not actual

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Doctor Faces 230-year Sentence for Prescription Drug Dealing

In today’s changing climate of addiction, where prescription drug abuse has surpassed illegal drug abuse, the drug dealers are often members of the medical profession. This again became evident this week in a Los Angeles federal courtroom when Dr. Nazar Al Bussum pled guilty to drug distribution charges. The 72-year-old geriatric physician, who lives in the exclusive community of Newport Coast but operated clinics in Downy and Los Angeles, could be sentenced to as many as 230 years in prison and fined up to $11.5 million.

Al Bussum is charged with writing prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, codeine cough syrup and anti-anxiety medication for patients who had no medical need for the drugs. The majority of the prescriptions were for oxycodone, hydrocodone and Xanax – all highly addictive substances. Federal prosecutors estimate that he wrote more than 60,000 prescriptions between 2007 …

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Famous Rock Musician Succumbs to Opiate Addiction and Robs Pharmacy on Tour

In an almost unbelievably tragic story, the destructive grip  of OxyContin is yet again displayed as a touring rock star robs a pharmacy in a taxi to get OxyContin.

Michael Todd was scheduled to play the Comcast Center in Mansfield Massachussetts on the night of July 10th when he went into an Attleboro Walgreens and “held it up” (with a bomb threat  – displayed on his blackberry) for OxyContin.  He eventually was given oxycodone and left in a taxi getaway car.

Why Would Someone Do This?

Before you dismiss this as a laughable act of a crazy person – we would ask you to consider what kind of suffering Michael Todd might have been experiencing due to OxyContin addiction.

As part of the  powerful and artistically lauded rock band Coheed and Cambria, Michael had worked his way up through …

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“Gateway to Heroin” Documents the Link between OxyContin and Heroin

In 2009, Current TV correspondent Mariana von Zeller traveled to South Florida to report on the prescription drug pipeline that stretches from the beaches of Miami to the hills of Appalachia.  Her documentary, “The OxyContin Express,” won a Peabody Award for its depiction of the impact of Florida’s prescription drug epidemic on addicts, law enforcement officials and prisoners.  Now von Zeller has produced a new documentary called “Gateway to Heroin” that exposes how prescription opiate addicts are turning to heroin for a cheaper high.

For “Gateway to Heroin,” von Zeller focused on the situation in Massachusetts, where prescription pills have become the most popular street drugs.  Many drug dealers travel to Florida (referred to by von Zeller as the “Colombia of prescription drugs”) to obtain prescription drugs illegally, bringing them back to Massachusetts to sell on the street.  In an …

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Google Prepares for Hefty Fine for Illegal Drug Ads

Google, the internationally-known search engine and online advertising company, is being investigated by federal regulators for displaying ads for illegal pharmacies that sell prescription drugs online.  These illegal pharmacies sell legitimate prescription drugs without a prescription as well as counterfeit drugs.  Now a recent Securities and Exchange System filing by Google indicates that the company is setting aside $500 million in the event that they are fined for their drug advertising practices.  This sum represents 22% of the company’s net income of $2.3 billion.

If Google is fined $500 million or more, it could the largest penalty of its type ever paid to the U.S. Department of Justice.  This reflects the enormity of the problem of online prescription drug sales.  A study by doctors at the University  of California and Massachusetts General Hospital found a link between the increase in …

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