On the Allegiant Experts Blog, there has been no shortage of blog posts regarding our nation’s opioid crisis. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, this often-overlooked drug-related epidemic continues to take lives at an alarming rate. As many of our blogs have exposed, the illegal prescribing and distribution of such drugs as oxycodone and hydrocodone is often at the center of opioid-based overdoses in the United States.
Oxycodone is generally sold under the brand names, Roxicodone and OxyContin. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is, however, highly addictive and commonly abused. Hydrocodone is also a pain-killing opioid, but it is also used as a cough suppressant. It is often sold under the brand name, Zohydro ER. Both of these drugs are taken orally.
Youngstown doctor pleads guilty to unlawfully distributing opioids.
As reported by the Northern District of Ohio branch of the United States Department of Justice this week, another physician is guilty of illegal opioid distribution. 58 year-old, Martin Escobar pleaded guilty on Monday to illegally distributing controlled substances, causing the deaths of two patients. He is also guilty of unlawfully distributing a controlled substance to a person under the age of 21 and health care fraud.
Court documents revealed that between March 2015 and October 2019, Escobar admitted to prescribing controlled substances out of his Lake Milton medical office. Those drugs included oxycodone and hydrocodone. They were often prescribed in combination with benzodiazepines and stimulants. Of course, these prescriptions were all outside of the usual course of professional practice. They were also without a legitimate medical purpose.
Escobar falsely diagnosed his patients.
The doctor admitted that he used false diagnoses to support his unlawful prescription practices. Among his practices were falsifying patient pain intensity scales in medical charts, increasing dosages of controlled substances and prescribing them for prolonged periods without evidence of efficacy.
In addition, Escobar admitted to inadequately investigating patient pain complaints. He failed to pursue treatment options other than controlled substances and falsely claimed to have performed extensive physical examinations on his patients.
Escobar ignored the warning signs of his patients’ drug addiction and abuse.
Escobar had his patients do urine drug screen tests in his medical office. Many of the results of these tests suggested that the patients were abusing the drugs he prescribed. He admitted to ignoring these test results. Many of them were billed to the government. As a result, Escobar pleaded guilty to health care fraud.
“Escobar also admitted that, in July of 2015 and 2016, he unlawfully prescribed opioids and other controlled substances to two patients without a legitimate medical purpose,” details the DoJ report, “Both patients later fatally overdosed from the drugs. In another instance, in April of 2018, Escobar admitted that he unlawfully prescribed opioids to an individual under the age of 21 without a medical need. Escobar is scheduled to be sentenced on May 17, 2022.”
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