Dozens of people, including 53 medical personnel, have been charged for allegedly participating in an illegal prescription and distribution of opioids and other drugs, the Department of Justice Department of Health and Human Services officials said on Wednesday. Federal law enforcement health officials held a press conference in Cincinnati where they announced charges arising from the regional Appalachian Opioid Strike force clearance operation that began only four months ago.
"The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the most from any region," said Attorney General William F. Barr. "But the Ministry of Justice is doing its part to help end this crisis. One of the newest initiatives of the department's most promising is Appalachian Regional Register of Epioid Armistice Strike (ARPO), which began its work in December.
The ARPO strike charges by force involve over 350,000 prescriptions and over 32 million bullets are distributed by health officials across 11 states, including Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Florida. Thirty-one doctors, seven pharmacists and eight nurses practitioners were charged Wednesday. Some of the examples of medical malpractices found in the indictment are prominent in their scope.
- According to the indictment, one pharmacy in Dayton, Ohio has recorded over 1.75 million opioid pills between October 2015 and October 2017, earning the nefarious nickname of the "pill mill", a medical office that offers opioids without legitimate medical treatment purpose.
- The indictment states that one physician in Tennessee's western district, who called himself Rock Rock, will replace ozoid and benzodiazepines with patients for sexual favors. For a period of three years, the doctor prescribed about 500,000 hydrocodone pills, 300,000 oxycodone pills, 1,500 fentanyl patches, and more than 600,000 benzodiazepines.
- One doctor in Tennessee allegedly claimed about 4.2 million opioid pills.
- A 30-year-old patient from Alabama claimed that an overdose of more than 800 oxycodone pills, more than 800 months before her death, later, the doctor who prescribed them allegedly instructed the patient to dispose of all the bottles of pills before the police arrived.
The indictment also details cases of alleged ill-treatment by medical personnel, including filling fake prescriptions, setting opioids for well-known addicts, and providing Facebook members with opioid prescriptions based on messenger requests.
"Abuse and abuse of opioids is a subversive epidemic, largely caused by the over-prescription of powerful ezoes throughout the country, and unfortunately Appalachia is in the center," he said Wednesday. "Today's message sends a clear message that investigations involving the diversion of prescription drugs have been, and continue to be, a priority for DEA."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 115 Americans die every day of overdose of opioids. The National Institute of Drug Abuse calculated that over 70,000 Americans died of drug drugs in 2017, including 47,000 of all opioids and 28,400 from fentanyl and its analogues.