Outrageous Incentives and Behaviors of Doctors: What You Didn’t Know About The Opioid Crisis

Published May 16, 2019 by:

Recently, we’ve reported about the criminal justice system targeting more prominent (and overlooked) players in the opioid crisis. Your local drug dealer didn’t have nearly the same impact or reach that major pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and doctors had. Today we’re going to touch on the careless and shocking misconduct of doctors around the country, using a who/what/when/where/and why format.

Who?

31 doctors, 7 pharmacists, 8 nurse practitioners and 7 other licensed medical professionals. This is a total of 60 people.

What?

Doctors in seven states were charged with prescribing opioids in exchange for cash, and even sex. More than 32 million painkillers were prescribed in exchange for sex and money. These charges involve more than 350,000 illegal prescriptions being written. One dentist indicted even “…unnecessarily pulled teeth from patients to justify giving them opioids” (Horwitz). Some doctors even operated a pharmacy right outside of their office door, so that patients could fill their opioid prescriptions immediately after they were written.

Additionally, “In a number of cases, according to the indictments, doctors across the region traded prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone for sexual favors” and “Some physicians instructed their patients to fill multiple prescriptions at different pharmacies” (Horwitz). The cases involved in this latest criminal justice crackdown are horrifying. “In Alabama, a doctor allegedly recruited prostitutes and other young women to become patients at his clinic and allowed them to use drugs at his home, prosecutors said. Another Alabama doctor allegedly prescribed opioids in high doses and charged a “concierge fee” of $600 per year to be one of his patients” (Horwitz).

The Charges:
“The charges include unlawful distribution or dispensing of controlled substances by a medical professional and health-care fraud. Each count carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, and many of the defendants face multiple counts” (Horwitz).

When?

Charges like these indictments have been filed for the past few years, but these charges were recently filed this month.

“The opioid indictments come as more than 1,500 cities, counties, Native American tribes and unions are suing drug companies in one of the largest and most complicated civil cases in U.S. history” (Horwitz).

Where?

These medical professionals being charged span across the United States. The charges were documented in…

  • Alabama
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

Why?

The Justice Department has been cracking down on criminal activity directly relating to the opioid crisis. Last month, we saw charges filed against two executives and their company Rochester Drug Cooperative, for their part in feeding the current opioid crisis.

Last year, the Justice Department filed charges against 162 people for their role in prescribing and distributing opioids and other narcotics.

Earlier this month, we saw founder and former CEO of drug company Insys Therapeutics become the first Big Pharma executive to be convicted for his role in the opioid crisis— which was a crime that ended in over 900 overdose deaths. CEO John Kapoor, of Insys Therapeutics, and four other executives from his company were convicted on charges of racketeering. That case involved doctors who were targeted by Insys Therapeutics with outrageous incentives to write prescriptions for their fentanyl-product spray “Subsys”. The outrageous incentives used included: trips to the gun range, strip-club outings, lap dances, lavish dining opportunities, and the ability to rack up payments for fraudulent speaker events. (Lubben).

“Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an interview. ‘If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers’ ” (Horwitz).

Reach Out

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.

References:

Lubben, Alex. “Guns, Strippers, and Fancy Dinners: How One Opioid Company Bribed Doctors to Prescribe Fentanyl.” VICE News, VICE News, 3 May 2019, news.vice.com/en_us/article/7xg8ke/guns-strippers-and-fancy-dinners-how-one-pharma-company-bribed-doctors-to-prescribe-fentanyl

Horwitz, Sari, and Scott Higham. “Doctors in Seven States Charged with Prescribing Pain Killers for Cash, Sex.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Apr. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/doctors-in-five-states-charged-with-prescribing-pain-killers-for-cash-sex/2019/04/17/7670d20e-607e-11e9-9ff2-abc984dc9eec_story.html?utm_term=.7ee6efc7211a.

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