It’s no secret that the United States of America is currently entangled in a very serious opioid epidemic. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016. That’s more than any previous year on record. An estimated 40 percent of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.
In 2017, HHS declared a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis. Opioids represent a wide variety of pain killers that make the brain change how the body feels and responds to pain. While the medication is meant to relieve pain, its use as a recreational drug has led to the aforementioned overdoses, causing our national crisis.
Opioids were purported to not be so addictive.
“In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates,” reports HHS, “Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.”
Among the many opioids that are causing this crisis is oxycodone. Often sold under the brand name, OxyContin, the drug is at the center of yet another incident of health care fraud in our country. As reported by the United States Department of Justice this week, the owner of a Detroit-area pain and physical therapy clinic pleaded guilty for her role in a drug diversion scheme.
Shirley Douglas is guilty of illegally distributing oxycodone.
This past Wednesday, 70 year-old Shirley Douglas of West Bloomfield, Michigan, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances before U.S. District Judge David Lawson of the Eastern District of Michigan. Her sentencing is scheduled for December 19th before Judge Lawson.
The owner and operator of Abyssinia Love Knot Physical Therapy L.L.C., Douglas admitted to conspiring with others to employ physicians who would write medically unnecessary prescriptions for controlled substances, such as oxycodone and oxymorphone.
“Douglas facilitated patient visits with doctors, and accepted payment from patients and patient recruiters/marketers in exchange for physician visits at which she knew that prescriptions for medically unnecessary controlled substances would be provided,” reports the DoJ, “Medicare beneficiaries were also required to sign physical therapy documents as a condition to receive prescriptions for controlled substances, regardless of medical necessity.”
Douglas illegally distributed an incredibly large number of pills. As part of her guilty plea, she admitted that the total drug amount attributable to her was in excess of 500,000 oxycodone pills.
Are you an attorney who is currently trying a health care fraud case?
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