For the past year and a half, the world has been contending with the coronavirus pandemic. And while we’re certainly not out of the woods yet, it’s important to not deflect too much attention from another crisis that has long impacted Americans. The opioid crisis rages on, taking lives in record numbers.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “in 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.”
New Orleans doctor charged with illegally distributing opioids.
As reported by the United States Department of Justice last week, a New Orleans, Louisiana doctor had been indicted for illegally dispensing over 1.2 million doses of opioids. He has also been charged in a $5.1 million health care fraud scheme. The DoJ reveals that 55 year-old Adrian Dexter Talbot illegally distributed such substances as oxycodone and morphine.
Talbot dispensed the drugs outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. He also maintained his Slidell-based clinic for the purpose of illegally distributing the controlled substances. The charges against the physician include the defrauding of such health care benefit programs as Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. Allegedly, he billed them for more than $5.1 million worth of opioid prescriptions.
Talbot accepted cash payments for Schedule II controlled substances.
According to the DoJ report, Talbot welcomed patients into his clinic and sold them opioids for cash. In 2015, he took a full-time job in Pineville, Louisiana. No longer working at the Slidell clinic, Talbot pre-signed prescriptions to be distributed to individuals at the clinic without seeing or examining those individuals.
“In 2016, Talbot hired another practitioner who also pre-signed prescriptions to be distributed in the same manner at the Slidell clinic,” details the DoJ report, “With Talbot’s knowledge, individuals were filling their prescriptions that were issued outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose using their insurance benefits.”
Talbot faces up to 30 years in prison.
As result of his scheme, Talbot caused health care benefit programs to be fraudulently billed for filling prescriptions that were written without an appropriate patient examination or determination of medical necessity for the prescription.
He is officially charged with one count each of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances, maintaining a drug-involved premises and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Talbot is also charged with four counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances. If convicted for his crimes, Talbot faces a maximum penalty of 10 years for conspiracy to commit health care fraud and 20 years each for all other counts.
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