60 people in eight states charged with illegally prescribing, distributing opioids

18 Avril, 2019, 04:36 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • This mobile clinic is fighting the opioid epidemic

The operation was conducted by the federal Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, launched previous year by the Trump administration.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that 60 people across five states, including more than 30 physicians, were charged in connection with millions of illegal prescription opioids in a takedown by its "Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force". Benjamin Glassman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of OH, told reporters that the task force is also dedicated to getting help for the suffering.

Those charged include two doctors who allegedly prescribed pills in exchange for sexual favors and a doctor who prosecutors say prescribed pills for their own use. They didn't immediately name those being charged. West Virginia and OH have regularly been among the states with the highest overdose death rates as the opioid crisis has swelled in recent years.

More than 200,000 people have died of prescription opioid-related overdoses in the USA since 1999.

A doctor who was charged in Tennessee called himself the "Roc Doc" and traded prescriptions for sex as he prescribed 800,000 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills and 600,000 benzodiazepine tablets over three years, the Justice Department said.

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An indictment states that Jeff Young operated a clinic in Jackson, Tennessee, and promoted his practice with the motto "work hard, play harder". Over the course of three years, the doctor, the department said, prescribed almost 1.5 million pills, the bulk of which were hydrocodone, oxycodone and benzodiazepine pills.

The charges leveled by the ARPO Strike Force involve over 350,000 prescriptions and over 32 million pills distributed out by health care officials across several states, including Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida.

In another instance, in the Western District of Kentucky, according to the DOJ, a doctor would provide pre-signed blank prescriptions to office staff who used them to prescribe drugs while he was out of the office.

"The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region", Attorney General William Barr said in the statement, adding that the DOJ "is doing its part to help end this crisis".

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