The New York Times broke a mammoth story this evening. In Tennessee, a Nurse Practioner that went by “The Rock Doc” was arrested for prescribing thousands of opioid drugs in exchange for sex, the Times reports.
Gasp all you want but “The Rock Doc” is not alone.
The Times reported that federal prosecutors announced charges against 60 medical professionals for illegally prescribing opioids in exchange for sex and cash. Among the medical professionals, a wide majority were doctors, as well as nurses, dentists, and pharmacists.
In a press release, the United States Justice Department revealed that the recent indictments had developed following a four-month-long investigation by Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO), a federal team dedicated to the investigation of illegal opioid prescription distribution in the U.S.
The press release highlights that the charges brought against the medical professionals are based on evidence that over 350,000 prescriptions and over 32 million pills had been distributed by the accused medical professionals that work across 11 federal districts in Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
Some grim details about the criminal activities that took place by the so-called trusted medical professionals were described in the press release:
In the Northern District of Alabama four doctors were charged. One doctor allegedly coerced prostitutes that he had sexual relations with to enlist as his patients at his private practice, while concurrently engaging in the abuse of illicit drugs in his home. In the Southern District of West Virginia, a doctor allegedly prescribed narcotics for a patient he had never seen. In the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a former nurse allegedly filled false prescripts for oxycodone under her name in order to obtain pills for personal use as well as for the purpose of local distribution. In another case, a doctor in Florida was charged for allegedly fraudulently inflating prescription prices by billing Medicare and TRICARE insurance with bloated reimbursements.
A doctor from Dayton, Ohio is described as the highest prescription writer of controlled substances in the state. According to the indictment, between October 2015 and October 2017 alone, a pharmacy in Dayton, Ohio that is linked to the doctor had dispensed over 1.75 million pills over just a 2-year period.
This investigation and news release clearly reveals that there’s a taint in the medical system. Medical professionals are and have been exploiting patients willingly and unwillingly into addiction.
According to the CDC, approximately 130 Americans die every day of an opioid overdose. The fight against the opioid epidemic is not near over. Opioid overdoses have accounted for more than 47,600 deaths in 2017, more than any previous year on record according to the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services.
The fight against the opioid crisis is not just embedded in increasing resources for those who struggle with addiction– the root of the problem must be addressed in the way we train and monitor medical professionals in this day and age.