With March now here, we have a sad anniversary to acknowledge. We have officially hit the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying that the past 24 months have been extremely trying for us all. In spite of this incredibly unfortunate global crisis, the Allegiant Experts Blog has never shied away from continuing to expose another major predicament in the United States. While it doesn’t always make the headlines, the opioid crisis sadly rages on.
As reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there were 70,630 deaths due to drug overdose in the United States in 2019. Over 70% of those deaths involved opioids. It goes without saying that the opioid crisis continues to be a very serious matter. Sadly, the unlawful distribution of opioid pills remains a major part of the problem. Earlier this week, a former Delaware doctor was handed a 20-year prison sentence for worsening the situation.
Patrick Titus was convicted by a federal jury in July 2021.
As reported by the United States Department of Justice, the 58 year-old former physician received his prison sentence on March 1. He was found guilty on all 13 counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances. As well, Titus was convicted of one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises.
The DoJ reports that court documents and evidence presented at trial showed that Titus unlawfully distributed or dispensed a variety of powerful opioids. Among these drugs were fentanyl, morphine, methadone, OxyContin and oxycodone. Each drug was prescribed outside of the usual scope of professional practice and not for legitimate medical purposes.
OxyContin has proven to be a particularly perilous problem in the U.S.
A team of writers from the Los Angeles Times referred to the drug as the “chemical cousin of heroin”. In a 2016 article, they revealed that, since 1996, “more than 7 million Americans have abused OxyContin...The drug is widely blamed for setting off the nation’s prescription opioid epidemic, which has claimed more than 190,000 lives from overdoses involving OxyContin and other painkillers since 1999.”
Titus operated an internal medicine practice.
As part of his scheme, Titus frequently prescribed dangerous controlled substances in high dosages. Sometimes, his prescriptions involved dangerous combinations of drugs. These were done mostly in exchange for cash. Evidence at trial showed that Titus distributed over one million opioid pills.
As the DoJ explains, “although these Schedule II drugs are approved for pain management treatment, Titus provided no meaningful medical care and instead prescribed these controlled substances to patients he knew were suffering from substance use disorder and/or who demonstrated clear signs that the prescribed drugs were being abused, diverted or sold on the street.”
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