Ohio Doctor Furthers U.S. Opioid Epidemic Via Unlawful Drug Distribution


The Allegiant Experts Blog has long drawn attention toward the opioid epidemic in the United States. Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which we are still working our way through, we highlighted the fact that opioid medications are being misused and abused. Both prescription and non-prescription opioids are highly addictive. Sadly, they have caused deaths in the tens of thousands per year.


The opioid epidemic numbers are staggering.


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released a number of statistics regarding the U.S. opioid crisis. Including data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, those statistics include the fact that 70,630 people died from a drug overdose in 2019. In that year, 10.1 million people misused prescription opioids. 1.6 million people had opioid use disorders.


Heroin is a widely-known opioid. Regarded as a street drug versus a prescription medication, heroin was used by 745,000 people in 2019, according to the HHS-reported stats. 50,000 people used the drug for the first time and 14,480 deaths were attributed to overdosing on heroin.


“Devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic include increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy,” reads the HHS website.


Ohio physician convicted of illegally distributing opioids.


72 year-old, Thomas Romano is a pain management physician. He also happens to be an example of a medical professional who cares more about profit gain than he does the health of his patients. So says the United States Department of Justice. Earlier this week, they announced that Romano has been convicted of unlawfully distributing opioids. A federal jury convicted him last Friday.


According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Romano owned and operated a self-named pain management clinic. His clients were known to travel hundreds of miles to obtain prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances from him. Romano only accepted cash payments for his opioid and other controlled substance prescriptions. The DoJ notes that he charged $750 for an initial prescription and $120 for any subsequent monthly prescriptions.


Romano unlawfully prescribed over 100,000 pills.


“The evidence offered at trial demonstrated that the prescriptions Romano issued for opioids and other controlled substances greatly exceeded recommended dosages and were in dangerous, life-threatening combinations which served to fuel the addiction of his clients,” the DoJ explains, “According to evidence introduced at trial, between January 2015 and June 2019, Romano prescribed over 111,000 pills, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and muscle relaxants, to nine of his clients.”


In total, Romano was convicted of 24 counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance to nine clients. The distribution was outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each of his charges. A sentencing date has not yet been set.


Are you an attorney who is currently working a health care fraud case?


The clinical experts at Allegiant Experts can help you! We coordinate and support courageous whistleblowers that shine lights on fraud, waste and abuse. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 407-217-5831. You may also email us at info@allegiantexperts.com.

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