Dozens of people, including 53 health workers, were charged with alleged involvement in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids and other drugs, the justice office and the offices of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said on Wednesday. Federal prosecutors and health officials published a press conference in Cincinnati to announce the costs arising from an operation to abandon opioid opioid attacks from Appalachia, which began just four months ago.
"The opioid epidemic is the most lethal drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered more than any other region," said Prosecutor General William P. Barr. "However, the Ministry of Justice is carrying out its task to help eliminate this crisis. One of the most promising new initiatives is the Criminal Justice Department, which began operations in December."
The costs paid by ARPO Strike Force include over 350,000 recipes and over 32 million tablets distributed by healthcare professionals from 11 countries, including Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida. On Wednesday, 33 doctors, 7 pharmacists and 8 nurses were charged. Some examples of medical abuse found in the indictment are surprising.
- According to the indictment, one drugstore in Dayton, Ohio, prescribed more than 1.75 million opioid tablets from October 2015 to October 2017, giving it an outrageous "pill" label, a medical office that prescribes opioids without legitimate healthcare.
- The indictment states that one doctor in the western Tennessee district, called "Rock Doc", would replace opioids and benzodiazepines with patients in exchange for sexual services. Over a period of three years, the doctor prescribed approximately 500,000 hydrocodone tablets, 300,000 oxycodone tablets, 1,500 fentanyl patches and more than 600,000 benzodiazepine tablets.
- One of the doctors posted in Tennessee was supposed to prescribe approximately 4.2 million opioid tablets.
- A 30-year-old patient in Alabama was suspected of being overdose after more than 800 tablets of oxycodone had been prescribed for more than two months before his death, and then the doctor who prescribed them had directed the patient to remove all bottle tablets before the police came to an end.
The indictment alleges other alleged abuses by health professionals, including charging fraudulent recipes, prescribing opioids to known addicts, and providing friends with opioid-based Facebook recipes based on the demands of the messenger.
"Abuse and abuse of opioids is an insidious epidemic, largely due to excessive prescription of strong opioids across the country, and unfortunately Appalachia is at the center," said John Martin, an assistant administrator for drugs on Wednesday. "Today's announcement makes it clear that investigations involving the shift of prescription drugs are still a priority for the DEA."
According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 115 Americans die every day because of overdoses associated with opioids. The National Drug Abuse Institute estimated that over 70,000 Americans died of drug abuse in 2017, of which 47,000 were from any opioid and 28,400 from fentanyl and its analogues.