By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
An Orlando and Jacksonville physician have been linked to a statewide pill-mill operation that brought in millions of dollars to pain clinic owners and doctors, according to the Orlando Sentinel. On June 27, 2012 seven doctors and seven pain clinic owners were arrested in the raid that was dubbed "Operation Pill Street Blues.” The two-year, multiagency investigation into the pill-mill operation spanned from Miami to Pensacola. The investigation included the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Florida law enforcement.
To view the DEA's press release concerning the investigation, click here.
Pompano Beach Firefighter Named as Alleged Ring Leader.
Investigators named a 32-year-old Pompano Beach firefighter as the pill-mill’s ring leader. He allegedly used his image as a city firefighter and paramedic to develop a clean reputation with the local law enforcement.
He allegedly told his co-conspirators how to turn in other rogue doctors, pain clinics, and patients who abused drugs to authorities, so that their business would appear legitimate.
Millions of Oxycodone Pills were Dispensed in One Year.
Doctors recruited by the pill-mill network would allegedly write prescriptions to patients who did not have a medical need for the drugs or would prescribe excessive amounts of pills.
The seven doctors in the organization allegedly dispensed more than two million oxycodone tablets in one year. The Orlando and Jacksonville doctors allegedly prescribed more than 930,000 oxycodone pills between the two of them in a nine-month period.
Both Local Doctors Examined Undercover Detectives Posing as Patients During the Investigation.
Both doctors were visited by undercover detectives posing as patients. The Jacksonville doctor examined a detective who complained of minor back pain. She allegedly issued prescriptions for oxycodone and other drugs, even though the detective had no observable medical issues.
The affidavit details other undercover doctor visits, including those with the Orlando doctor at a pain management clinic in Fort Meyers. The initial exam between the doctor and the undercover detective allegedly lasted less than three minutes, before he gave the detective a prescription for oxycodone and other drugs.
Charges Range from Racketeering to Manslaughter.
Those arrested for alleged involvement in the pill-mill scheme face charges ranging from racketeering, to trafficking of a controlled substance, to manslaughter.
On June 26, 2012, the day before authorities announced the charges, the Department of Health suspended the doctors’ licenses.
Pain management doctors click here to see if you’re in compliance with the recent changes to Florida’s pain management laws.
Patients with Severe Pain Left to Suffer.
A former patient of a Vero Beach doctor arrested in the sting is one of hundreds who were prescribed strong narcotic pain medications at the alleged pill mills. Now she’s having a hard time finding the medications she needs to treat her conditions, including: a herniated disk, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. All of her conditions are listed in medical records and cause her severe pain. She is trying to find another doctor that is willing to prescribe her the medications she needs to function.
This situation is familiar to many patients in Florida with true medical need for prescription pain medications. These patients are finding it increasingly difficult to even locate a physician to treat them. Medical ethicists have commented on this problem, saying it is an issue that will become increasingly problematic for the foreseeable future.
To read more on operation “Pill Street Blue,” click here.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with DEA Cases.
The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses, and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies.
If you are aware of an investigation of you or your practice, or if you have been contacted by the DEA or DOH, contact an experienced health law attorney immediately.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Pavuk, Amy. "Authorities Link Orlando doctor, Daytona Clinic to Pill-Mill Network." Orlando Sentinel. (July 14, 2012). From: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-07-14/news/os-fernando-valle-pill-mill-network-20120714_1_pain-clinics-pill-mill-network-clinic-owners
Gordon, Lynn. “Former Patient of Vero Beach Doctor Arrested in Pill Mill Bust Talks."WPEC-TV. (July 17, 2012). From:http://www.cbs12.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_1092.shtml
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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