For obvious reasons, the world has been focused on the coronavirus pandemic for the past few months. However, as the Allegiant Experts Blog has highlighted on numerous occasions, the opioid crisis continues to ravage the United States. Sadly, such drugs as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine are responsible for an abundance of overdoses leading to death. And many of those overdoses result from illegal prescriptions.
Fairfax, Virginia’s Dr. Felicia Lyn Donald is just one of the many medical professionals in our nation who have contributed to the opioid crisis. According to the Eastern District of Virginia branch of the United States Department of Justice, the 65 year-old physician has pleaded guilty to operating a “pill mill”.
Donald led and organized an illegal prescription distribution conspiracy.
She also perpetuated a related health care fraud scheme. The DoJ reveals that her illegal actions took place between April 2016 and April 2020. While practicing medicine at For Women OB/GYN Associates and NOVA Addiction Center, Donald distributed over 1.2 million milligrams (mg) of Schedule II opioids.
The medications were at or above the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline for dosages that a practitioner should avoid. The total street value of the dispensed drugs exceeded $1.2 million. Donald also illegally distributed at least 325,190 mg of oxycodone and other Schedule II controlled substances. As well, she committed health care fraud on a number of occasions to further her scheme.
Donald involved a close associate in her scheme.
“Donald fraudulently prescribed Schedule II opioid pills that she illegally distributed to a close associate, knowing that this individual sold the prescriptions on the street for profit,” the DoJ report details, “Around the same time, Donald issued prescriptions to the close associate for alprazolam pills, which belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.”
Make no mistake about it. Donald was doling out an incredibly harmful mixture of drugs. She admitted that the combination of the opioids with benzodiazepines would prove deadly. Taken together, the mix could stop a person from breathing. Serious bodily injury or death could have come to her close associate or to other eventual users of the drugs.
Donald attempted to conceal her patterns of illegal prescribing.
To cover her scheme, she falsified medical records, making it appear as if people who were never her patients received examinations and medical care. They hadn’t and thus, Medicaid fraud was committed. “Donald fraudulently issued prescriptions to others in the names of at least nine unwitting individuals, none of whom were her patients,” notes the DoJ report, “Donald also issued prescriptions for high doses of oxycodone to multiple women who were pregnant.”
G. Zachary Terwilliger is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He had this to say: “Donald flagrantly violated her oath as a physician and put countless lives at risk. It is critical that those with the power to prescribe controlled substances be held accountable for their actions, and that putting the health and safety of the American public at risk is a federal crime. This is especially true at this very moment when we are relying on medical professionals to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Are you an attorney currently working on a health care fraud case?
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