Feds Charge 60 People in Illegal Prescription Opioid Crackdown

Feds arrest 60 people including doctors from OH and KY in illegal opioid bust

Feds arrest 60 people including doctors from OH and KY in illegal opioid bust

Almost three dozen doctors and a host of other medical professionals across eight states were charged for illegally prescribing and distributing opioids and other risky narcotics, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. 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.

Authorities say the 60 include a total of 53 medical professionals tied to some 350,000 prescriptions and 32 million pills.

The arrests were the result of work by the Appalachian Regional Prescription Strike Force, populated by 300 investigators from the five states concerned. They didn't immediately name those being charged.

According to NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse, Ohio and West Virginia rank at the top of opioid overdoses in the country.

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.

USA health authorities have reported there were more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017, for a rate of 21.7 per 100,000 people.

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A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for his attorney.

The department also said it charged a doctor who was allegedly making out prescriptions for pills "for his own use", and a dentist who allegedly prescribed opioids "that had no legitimate medical purpose" and removed teeth "unnecessarily".

Another case involved the dentist, 64-year-old Denver Tackett of McDowell, who is accused of writing prescriptions for opioids without a legitimate medical objective, removing teeth unnecessarily, scheduling unnecessary follow-up appointments and inappropriate billing.

Among those charges are a Dayton, Ohio pharmacy that prescribed over 1.75 million opioid pills between October 2015 and October 2017 and a Tennessee doctor that allegedly prescribed approximately 4.2 million opioid pills. 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. Authorities said an Alabama doctor recruited prostitutes and other women he had sexual relations with to his clinic and allowed them to abuse drugs in his home.

"The opioid crisis is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region", U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a statement in Washington.

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