Suspected Florida Pill Mills Continue to Attract Investigations
Monday, February 27, 2012
According to the Orlando Sentinel, some of the worst alleged pill mills in Florida are located in Orlando. At a small pain clinic near downtown Orlando and an affiliated office, one doctor prescribed more oxycodone during a three-month period in 2010 than all doctors in the state of California combined. Details about the clinic from former employees span a nearly 200-page affidavit filed in Orange County Circuit Court in the racketeering case against doctors and management of this pain clinic. The documents offer a rare glimpse inside the investigation.
In this case, agents examined bank records, Crimeline tips and records from the Medical Examiner's Office. Additionally, FDLE and Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation agents gathered prescribing data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, pulled state corporation filings and viewed Department of Health records. Agents obtained the prescribing histories for 75 patients who got their drugs at Walgreens and found that 64 had criminal records. Of those, 42 have been arrested for drug-related crimes.
In addition to exploring paper trails, agents and investigators employed more-traditional law enforcement tactics, including undercover investigations. Posed as patients, undercover MBI agents were prescribed painkillers with little or no medical assessment. While waiting for their turns to see the doctors in the clinics, they overheard patients in the lobby talk about selling drugs.
Undercover agents said there were other indications that this pain clinic was a pill mill. There were long lines outside; armed security guards; and signs that warned patients they needed to bring empty pill bottles and posted what medications were available and a price list for the pills. The pain clinics were a cash business. Insurance was not accepted, and employees told agents the price per visit ranged from $160 to $350.
The original target of this investigation was one of the doctors at the pain clinic, but as agents gathered intelligence, it became clear they needed to learn more about the owners and management.
According to the investigation, the management recruited doctors to work at the clinics, but court documents show they had a problem retaining them. A man who used to work at a nearby business told agents that one of the owners complained to him that doctors were quitting and suggested he would hire the man to pretend to be a doctor at the clinic.
The investigation of this pain clinic resulted in the arrest of the owners and doctor involved in allegedly overprescribing narcotics. As federal, state, and local agencies continue their mission to eradicate pill mills, more pain clinics will be involved in investigations.
If you are concerned about your pain clinic, or if you are a doctor practicing pain management at a pain clinic, please call us today at (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.
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