Methadone In The News Links

Posted on: January 6th, 2012 by
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17 Responses to Methadone In The News Links

  1. Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

    WOLFEBORO — A 22-year-old woman was arrested Thursday in connection with the Christmas Eve drug overdose of her friend and local police say more arrests are likely.

    Kathryn Boyce, 22, of 18 Thompson Hill Road, Eaton was arrested and charged with felony possession of cocaine and methadone, obstruction of government operations, falsifying physical evidence, and failure to report injury in connection with the death of Cory Heck, 21, of 18 North Line Road.

    Heck was pronounced dead by the State Medical Examiner’s Office at the Piping Rock Motel at approximately 10:50 a.m. on Dec. 24, after three of his friends, who were staying with him there, woke up to find him unresponsive.

    According to Wolfeboro Police Lt. Dean Rondeau, Heck and his friends had been staying at the motel since Dec. 16. The investigation into Heck’s death has revealed that he, Boyce and at least two other friends were using drugs the night before he died.

    A recently completed autopsy confirmed what local police had long thought — that Heck died of a drug overdose. And while Rondeau said he could not comment on what type of drugs were in his system nor what quantities, he said testing of substances found at the scene revealed there were “considerable” amounts of cocaine and methadone in the motel room.

    Also found in the motel room were a stash of lithium batteries and cold medicine, which Rondeau said can be used to make crystal meth. Hypodermic needles, rubber bands and spoons with drug residue in them were also found, he said.

    Boyce’s drug charges allege that the young woman possessed not only drugs, but also drug scales and ledgers, Rondeau said.

    Her charge of failure to report injury, the only misdemeanor against Boyce, alleges that despite realizing Heck’s health was failing, she did not call for emergency personnel.

    Boyce was not alone, however. Rondeau said that the others in the motel room the night before Heck’s death discussed whether they should call for help and even talked about dropping him off at a nearby hospital.

    “When they had some concern for his personal safety, they did nothing,” Rondeau said Friday. “They waited and didn’t put the life of their friend over (themselves) … that’s why this young man died.”

    Boyce’s charges of obstruction of government operations and falsifying physical evidence allege that Boyce, along with others in the motel room, “spruced up” the crime scene after calling police to report that Heck was unresponsive, Rondeau said.

    The obstruction charge also alleges Boyce was not cooperative when talking with police, Rondeau said, an issue he said police have dealt with throughout the investigation.

    Rondeau said many of the young people police believe are involved in Heck’s death have not been forthcoming with police, saying they don’t want to be known as a “rat.”

    “There’s a lot of misdirected loyalty being thrown around,” he said.

    Because of this, Rondeau said it has taken police weeks just to begin finding out exactly what happened the night of Heck’s death, and said he hopes that Boyce’s arrest will make the rest of the investigation easier.

    “We’re saying to them we’re not backing off of this,” he said. “Everyone knows that we’re serious about this, and people are beginning to be more forthcoming with their testimony.”

    Rondeau said the investigation into Heck’s death is ongoing and that more arrests for his friends are expected in the coming week.

    Boyce is being held on no bail at the southern Carroll County House of Corrections on a probation violation on an earlier charge. She will be arraigned in Ossipee District Court on Monday, Jan. 30 at 11 a.m.

    Rondeau said more information into the investigation is expected to come out in court.

  2. Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

    Butte judge faces 12 felony dangerous drug charges involving methadone
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    First Posted: January 28, 2012 – 3:13 pm
    Last Updated: January 28, 2012 – 6:08 pm

    AAA

    BUTTE, Mont. — A Butte justice of the peace who authorities say doctor-shopped to get multiple prescriptions for the painkiller methadone has been charged with 12 felony counts of fraudulently obtaining dangerous drugs.

    Robert “Bob” E. Lee was charged Friday in Anaconda District Court, The Montana Standard reported (http://bit.ly/wrF9jP ).

    Authorities allege Lee received simultaneous care from physicians through much of 2010 to get the prescriptions, and filled the prescriptions at different pharmacies.

    Earlier on Friday in a separate case, Lee was sentenced in Butte District Court to a one-year deferred sentence, meaning he could avoid incarceration if he didn’t have additional legal trouble.

    Lee in November pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of negligent endangerment. Lee, who was initially charged with misdemeanor DUI, was accused of driving to the courthouse on Nov. 13, 2010, while under the influence of the prescription medication. Police testified they found him wandering around the police station appearing confused and impaired.

    At his sentencing in Butte District Court, Judge Loren Tucker said Lee’s case appeared to be a “personal problem” caused by chronic pain and not intentional criminal behavior.

    “Judge Lee, I’m very concerned about you as an individual,” Tucker said.

    Asked by Tucker if he would like to comment, Lee said: “I’m comfortable with the proceedings, the way they are proceeding.”

    Tucker asked Lee if he needed a chemical dependency evaluation. Lee’s attorney then gave a letter to Tucker from Lee’s physician. After reading the letter, Tucker decided Lee didn’t need to go through a chemical dependency treatment.

    In the felony charges filed against Lee on Friday, the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force said records from local doctors and pharmacies turned up 35 prescriptions for methadone for Lee alternating between doctors in Whitehall and Anaconda.

    Authorities said the prescription dates ranged from January 2010 to November 2010.

    Authorities said Lee filled methadone prescriptions from the doctor in Anaconda while keeping secret information that he recently filled other methadone prescriptions from the doctor in Whitehall.

    ___

    Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com

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  3. Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

    Jury rules woman put her 3 children in danger
    Story Discussion Jury rules woman put her 3 children in danger
    By Sentinel Staff Hanford Sentinel | Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:59 am | (0) Comments

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    HANFORD — A woman who slammed her car into a telephone pole with her three kids in the back seat has been convicted on three counts of felony child endangerment.

    Brenda Jean Vasquez, 42, had allegedly taken both sleeping pills and some painkillers on March 12, 2010 before climbing behind the wheel.

    She suddenly veered into oncoming traffic while driving along Hanford-Armona Road, crashing into a telephone pole and knocking it over. Authorities said the children escaped from the crash unharmed.

    Officers on the scene found the woman exhibiting signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance. She was later found to have taken both ambien and methadone prior to driving. She was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment.

    A jury convicted her on all three criminal counts on Jan. 12. She was cited out of custody and is set to appear in court for sentencing on Feb. 20. According to the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, she faces a maximum possible sentence of seven years and four months in prison.

    Read more: http://www.hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/jury-rules-woman-put-her-children-in-danger/article_5abe7d86-4858-11e1-90fd-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1keMfeASN

  4. Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

    A Casper man was charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident after authorities said he crashed into a parked pickup and then drove home while high on methadone.

    Joshua James Fenton, 24, was also charged with filing a false report after the Monday night crash.

    Police say Fenton called authorities to report having been in an accident about 9:30 p.m. Arriving at his apartment, officers say they found him “foaming at the mouth” and “unable to stand still,” according to an arrest affidavit from the case.

    Fenton told officers a red truck had “cut him off” at the intersection of CY Avenue and 15th Street and an accident occurred. He claimed he could not get the vehicle’s tag number as it left the alleged crash site without stopping, police say.

    Fenton claimed to have driven home and then called police.

    Officers checked the vehicle Fenton had been driving — a Jeep Cherokee — and saw that it had severe front end damage and was missing a front bumper. There was no red paint on the vehicle, police say.

    Officers then followed a trail of radiator fluid that was coming from beneath the Jeep. The fluid led to a Ford F-250 parked off 15th Street. Beside the truck was the bumper officers say was missing from Fenton’s vehicle.

    Police took Fenton to the scene. Confronted with the situation, he replied, “I don’t know. I got my directions messed up. If my bumper is there, I think I am going to need an attorney,” the affidavit states.

    Fenton, authorities say, agreed to take a breathalyzer and it registered 0.00. He struggled during field sobriety tests, though, and police found several methadone pills in his pockets, according to the affidavit.

    Fenton, in Natrona County Circuit Court on Tuesday, claimed the pills belonged to a family member who had inadvertently left them in his car. He said he was only holding the pills until he could return them.

    If convicted of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and false reporting, he faces the possibility of more than a year and a half behind bars.

    Fenton remained in the Natrona County Detention Center on a $2,000 bond Wednesday.

    A jury trial will be scheduled.

    Read more: http://trib.com/news/local/casper/casper-police-man-crashed-car-left-scene-while-on-methadone/article_2e8a30e8-f338-5714-be8f-ec9898524f4c.html#ixzz1kZrQCqn5

  5. Noah T. had this to say about that:

    This site and your attempts to have methadone removed from active drugs is ridiculous. It helps people!

    • Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

      Noah T.,
      We hope you will at least take the time to come back read the news articles or any links we have posted. We realize over the years Methadone has helped those struggling with addictions to opiates. However, at the present time the injuries and deaths far out weigh those that are benefiting.With the lack of education in prescribing Methadone in any setting it is far too dangerous and deadly. Now greed has entered into the picture…Doctors and Pharmacuetical Companies have built a multi million dollar industry annually.We did not wake up one day and choose Methadone it woke us up when it took the lives of our adult children.As parents we hope to save lives by telling the part of this story behind Methadone…the part that has never been told.We disagree Noah T., our attempts are far from ridiculous.

  6. tonya1968 had this to say about that:

    Methadone deaths jump sharply in recent years

    Tim Zigler, 17, of Spokane, Wash., died in 2006 after a methadone overdose. New federal statistics show that methadone fatalities jumped sevenfold between 1999 and 2006.

    By Andy Miller
    msnbc.com contributor

    updated 10/1/2009 8:57:39 AM ET

    Tim Zigler, 17, came home one evening three years ago and quickly went to bed. The next morning, his father found him unconscious and barely breathing. He died before an ambulance arrived.

    The Spokane, Wash., teenager had taken methadone that previous night, presumably at a fellow student’s home, before coming home, said his father, Ken Zigler.

    “Tim didn’t have any tolerance for methadone,’’ said Zigler, who called the drug “horribly dangerous.’’

    The potential danger was underscored in a new federal report that said the number of deaths involving methadone jumped nearly sevenfold from 1999 to 2006.

    The rise in methadone-related fatalities was faster than increases in deaths from other opioid analgesics — drugs usually prescribed to relieve pain such as OxyContin and fentanyl — and from other narcotics.

    Overall, poisoning deaths involving all opioid analgesics more than tripled over the seven-year time frame, increasing among all age groups, said the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Methadone is widely known for treatment of heroin addiction, but it has been increasingly prescribed to manage pain.

    The CDC statistics buttressed a March report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which said methadone’s growing use for pain management has made more of the drug available, thus contributing to an increase in methadone-related overdose deaths.

    Sharp rise in methadone prescriptions
    Methadone prescriptions for pain management jumped from about 531,000 in 1998 to more than 4 million in 2006, the GAO found. Deaths related to the drug can occur from improper dosing levels, misuse by patients who may combine it with other drugs, or abuse of the drug for non-medical purposes, the agency said.

    The CDC report said “a lack of knowledge about the unique properties of methadone was identified as contributing to some deaths.’’

    “We’ve been watching the trend in methadone deaths,’’ said Margaret Warner, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and a co-author of the report. ”Methadone has a long half-life. It stays in your body.’’

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    The methadone poisonings have continued in the last two years, Warner said. “There have been some programs to address the problem. We’re hoping they decrease the deaths.’’

    Methadone is effective in treating heroin and pharmaceutical opiate addiction, said Caleb Banta-Green, a research scientist with the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

    It’s also a good pain management drug if used properly — taken exactly as prescribed, he said.

    But the rising death rate from methadone, especially from prescriptions, is not surprising because of its increased overall use, Banta-Green said. “If they take it when it’s not prescribed, it’s dangerous. If you’re not opiate-tolerant, it could kill you.”

    Zigler now talks about methadone and his son’s death to teen groups.

    “My son’s death is tragic enough,’’ he said. “I’m trying to turn something horrible into something good — by educating the teens of the dangers of prescription drugs, especially methadone.’’

    Andy Miller is an Atlanta-based freelance journalist. His work has been published by WebMD, AOL’s WalletPop and AARP. He was a longtime staff writer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    © 2012 msnbc.com. Reprints

  7. tonya1968 had this to say about that:

    Two arrested for methadone death

    Updated: Thursday, 05 Jan 2012, 11:13 PM EST
    Published : Thursday, 05 Jan 2012, 11:08 PM EST

    TORRINGTON Conn. (WTNH) – Two people have been arrested following the death of a man who was sold methadone under illegal circumstances.

    Torrington police said they spoke with Chris Carchietta in May of 2011 regarding the sale of methadone that was found in the system of a 39-year-old male.

    Carchietta said he was drinking with the man whom he sold methadone to the night before the man died.

    The methadone was sold for $50.

    Carchietta said he left his “friend” alone after realizing that he had fallen asleep.

    Carchietta had no other contact with his “friend” who he heard later died as a result of methadone in his system.

    Police said Carchietta felt guilty in regards to the death of his “friend.” Police also found that Carchietta was given the liquid methadone by another friend, Julie Box.

    An autopsy on May,3, 2011 provided evidence that the 39-year-old man died as a result of methadone in his system.

    Carchietta,24, of 67 Forest Street in Torrington and Box,36, of 116 Culvert Street in Torrington were arrested for the sale of a narcotic substance.

    Carchietta is being held on a $30,000 bond and Box is being held on a $20,000 bond.

    They have both been in custody as of Jan.5, 2012.

  8. tonya1968 had this to say about that:

    Drug Investigation Links Santa Barbara Doctor’s Prescriptions to 11 Patient Deaths

    Affidavit describes dozens of suspect cases involving Dr. Julio Diaz and prescription medication practices over a period of several years

    Dr. Julio Diaz, arrested Wednesday after a months-long investigation, is to be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

    By Lara Cooper and Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writers | @NoozhawkNews | | Published on 01.04.2012

    (4)

    5

    An affidavit provided to Noozhawk after Wednesday’s arrest of a Santa Barbara family practice physician includes sordid allegations that his drug-prescribing habits are related to nearly a dozen deaths among his patients and hundreds of visits to local emergency rooms.

    Dr. Julio Diaz, 63, of Goleta, faces a federal criminal complaint of distribution of controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and without legitimate medical purpose.

    | Prescription for Abuse | Complete Series Index |

    He was arrested Wednesday morning at his home in the 400 block of Cannon Green Drive, and Drug Enforcement Administration agents then drove him to his office at the Family Care Clinic, 510 N. Milpas St. There, they carted away records, computer hard drives and prescription medications.

    Diaz is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. If convicted of the charge of illegal distribution of a controlled substance by a medical practitioner, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

    After the arrest, Noozhawk received a 75-page affidavit from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. The document details the lengthy investigation by the DEA, Santa Barbara police and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

    Dozens of cases are outlined — including 11 drug-related patient deaths — and they paint a picture of a doctor who allegedly prescribed narcotics for virtually any complaint.

    According to the affidavit, “profound” doses of drugs such as OxyContin, Fentanyl and Dilaudid were prescribed for common physical conditions including back pain and menstrual cramps. The document says some of the patients required emergency room visits shortly after leaving Diaz’s office.

    A licensed vocational nurse who worked in Diaz’s office told the DEA that “75 percent” of patients paid with cash, and Diaz charged $120 per visit and $180 per pain management visit. Diaz’s wife, Socorro, worked in the clinic and, the employee said in the affidavit, she would tell him to write prescriptions for people and then hand them to the patient in the lobby, to family members or to friends.

    Physicians associated with Cottage Health System, which operates Santa Barbara and Goleta Valley Cottage hospitals, had complained to the Medical Board of California for years, and the affidavit describes a letter they had sent, requesting that the board take action.

    The doctors described one woman with menstrual cramps who allegedly received from Diaz 120 OxyContin 40-milligram tablets, 150 methadone 10-milligram tablets, 120 tablets of Fentanyl and 120 tablets of Xanax.

    “We have previously raised concerns with the medical board regarding Diaz’s prescribing practices but are corresponding again because we continue to see patients who have become addicted under his care,” the letter read.

    In 2009, a parent concerned for his 20-year-old son sent the board a letter in which he describes sitting with his son in the emergency room after an overdose. He said investigators discovered that Diaz had prescribed the young man more than 4,000 pills in less than a year, “an average of 22 predominantly Schedule II opiates a day.”

    When a state medical board investigator paid an unannounced visit to the clinic a year later, the affidavit says she witnessed that demand firsthand. While the clinic was closed for the lunch hour, the investigator said she saw a man in his early 20s begin banging on the door yelling, “I need to see the doctor. I need pills!”

    The report goes even further and describes patients who allegedly gave Diaz sexual favors in exchange for drugs.

    According to the report, “Diaz’s ‘favorite patient’ was, according to office staff, a known prostitute. (The employee) saw C.A. (the woman) sit on Diaz’s lap during her appointment, other staff told her they saw them kissing, and C.A. was the last patient of the day and Diaz would send (the employee) home, saying he could take care of C.A … C.A. always took one of her children into the restroom when she needed to provide a urinalysis.”

    Also in the report are details of patient deaths allegedly related to Diaz, ranging from multiple drug ingestion to complications from chronic drug abuse. The patients, who ranged in age between their early 20s and 50s, died between 2006 and 2011. According to the affidavit, all list Diaz as their primary physician, and some died just a few days after filling large prescriptions from him.

    The report says Diaz prescribed 2,087 pills to one 27-year-old in the six weeks before his or her death and the bottles, mostly empty or nearly empty, were found on the scene by first responders. The individual had injected the prescription medication, and police found the bottles in the bedroom and car.

    “Due to the large number of pills this decedent was taking, it is apparent that an overdose could very easily take place,” a deputy coroner said about one 52-year-old’s death in 2007.

    A 35-year-old with a history of drug abuse had a concentration of Dilaudid in her system that was more than 10 times a therapeutic dose.

    Diaz couldn’t prescribe such large amounts without pharmacists becoming suspicious, and some Santa Barbara-area pharmacies have “blacklisted” him and refuse to fill his prescriptions.

    CVS stopped filling his narcotic prescriptions in 2008, although the pharmacy continued filling “maintenance medications” such as Lipitor, a cholesterol drug.

    According to the affidavit, patients have filled Diaz’s prescriptions in 48 California cities outside Santa Barbara County and even in other states.

    Diaz’s prescriptions allegedly included refills early, often and for large amounts. These often went unnoticed for long periods of time, the affidavit said.

    In August 2010, a patient attempted to fill large amounts of buprenorphine, Norco and Xanax in Auburn in Placer County east of Sacramento. A pharmacist reported the incident to the DEA, relayed her concern to Diaz and refused to fill the prescriptions, only to learn later that the patient had obtained refills as far away as Utah and North Carolina.

    “The early refills were not flagged because the patient did not have regular insurance or a prescription program that cross-referenced refills among different pharmacies,” the affidavit states.

    Diaz gave some pills out directly from the clinic, and DEA agents cleared out the drugs when they raided his office Wednesday afternoon.

    The special agent who wrote the report also found a record of the narcotics Diaz ordered directly to his office, which included more than 20,000 dosage units of hydrocodone each year since 2008.

    While DEA agents walked a handcuffed Diaz to a black SUV on Wednesday, law enforcement agents continued carrying boxes of confiscated material from the clinic.

    Diaz has been a licensed member of the state medical board since 1981 and has no public actions against him. Only formal actions taken by the medical board are reported on its Web site, however, leaving little information available to consumers.

    During research for Noozhawk’s Prescription for Abuse series, multiple sources — ranging from pharmacists, emergency-room doctors, families and law enforcement — alleged that Diaz consistently overprescribes pain medication, among other things.

    Santa Barbara County civil court documents reveal a medical malpractice case and another case of negligence, both of which Diaz settled.

  9. tonya1968 had this to say about that:

    Ohio University Student’s Death Ruled Accidental

    By

    Cheri Russo

    Published Thu, Jan 5, 2012 3:31 pm Dateline

    Athens, OH

    Updated Thu, Jan 5, 2012 7:11 pm

    The November death of an Ohio University student has been ruled accidental by the Athens County coroner.

    Dr. Harold C. Thompson says the cause of death for Yaara Mashmoor was “acute methadone and alcohol intoxication.”

    The 21-year old Junior psychology major from Pepper Pike was found unresponsive by her boyfriend around 3 a.m. November 3 at her Grosvenor Street home in Athens.

    Methadone is an opiate that is used to relieve moderate or severe pain.

    “What these types of drugs do is slow the respiratory rate down,” says Thompson.

    He says it eventually leads to the person not being able to breathe and the heart stopping.

    “It leads to a cardiac death,” says Thompson.

    Thompson says he will now hand the final autopsy report over to the police department so officers can finish their investigation.

  10. tonya1968 had this to say about that:

    Dear BanOxyContin Signers,
    We have over 11,000 signers and thousands of comments. We continue to wait for the media and public officials to comment on the site.
    Thanks in part to our efforts last April, The University of Wisconsin did curtail funding to the Pain Group affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Medical School.
    We have the opportunity to make an additional impact this week. ProPublica recently revealed two doctors who have extensive ties to the legal narcotic drug companies and indirectly to Purdue Pharma. (http://www.propublica.org/article/two-leaders-in-pain-treatment-have-long-ties-to-drug-industry)
    Dr. Fishman is affiliated with the University of California Davis School of Medicine and Dr. Perry Fine is affiliated with the University of Utah School of Medicine.
    We need people to send an email to the Dean of UC Davis School of Medicine, Dr. Claire Pomeroy ( Claire.pomeroy@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu ) regarding Dr. Scott Fishman.

    We also need people to send an email to Dean Dr. Vivian Lee ( vivian.lee@hsc.utah.edu ) at the University of Utah School of Medicine regarding Dr. Fine.

    Please take a minute to send a message to the respective Deans of each medical school.
    Let the Dean of each school know that you have been affected by the over distribution of the legal narcotics and you are requesting that the doctor be stopped from accepting money from the legal narcotic producing drug companies as long as they are affiliated with their school.
    Please do not remain silent on this request. A few minutes of your time may save a life.

    Larry Golbom
    The Prescription Addiction Radio Show – Breaking the Silence
    http://www.prescriptionaddictionradio.com

  11. Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

    Forged prescription lands woman in jail
    A Shreveport woman was arrested Tuesday on charges she submitted a forged prescription to Fred’s Pharmacy on state Highway 3 in Benton.

    Kathleen Nicole Key, 29, of the 6000 block of Double A Drive in Shreveport, attempted to fill a fraudulent prescription for methadone at the pharmacy, according to a news release from the Bossier sheriff’s office. The pharmacy contacted the doctor for verification, who said the prescription was no good.

    Key then said that a friend of hers wrote the prescription and that she knew it was not valid, the release said. Key was arrested and booked into the Bossier Maximum Security Facility. She was charged with attempting to obtain a controlled dangerous substance by fraud and attempted possession of a schedule II controlled dangerous substance, methadone.

    Her bond is pending.

  12. Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

    Mother ‘broke her daughter’s leg after the 4-year-old wet herself …

  13. Bren ONeal had this to say about that:

    Queen Creek doctor, ex-wife charged in prescriptions fraud
    130 counts stem from pain-pill prescriptions
    2 commentsby Ken Alltucker – Dec. 14, 2011 06:27 PM
    The Arizona Republic

    A metro Phoenix pain-management doctor and his ex-wife were charged with 130 counts stemming from his medical clinics that dispensed thousands of prescriptions for oxycodone, methadone and other pain pills to area residents for non-medical reasons.

    Angelo Chirban, 62, and Marilyn Chirban, 60, both of Queen Creek, were charged with conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances, illegal distribution of controlled substances, health-care fraud, health-care-fraud conspiracy and money laundering.

    The Chirbans were released from federal custody Wednesday after pleading not guilty during an arraignment at U.S. District Court in Phoenix. They are scheduled for trial in February.

    The indictment alleged that Chirban ran the clinics with his wife, a non-medical office administrator who signed her ex-husband’s name on thousands of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers at pain-management clinics in Phoenix and Mesa.

    Chirban allegedly left blank prescription pads at his home and clinics to allow his ex-wife to sign narcotic prescriptions for patients. He also hired office staff to complete medical charts for patients after Marilyn Chirban saw and wrote prescriptions for the patients.

    The indictment also alleged that Chirban fraudulently billed the state’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. Chirban charged AHCCCS for 57,341 patient visits between September 2006 and April 2010 even though 96 percent of those patients were treated by nurse practitioners, physician assistants or other non-doctors.

    The Medicaid business proved lucrative for the Chirbans, who collected nearly $4.7 million from fraudulent billings, officials said. Among the items they purchased with profit from the medical clinics included a $15,000 Arabian horse and horse training and a $20,195 luxury car from Legends Cadillac, according to the indictment.

    The indictment follows a lengthy Drug Enforcement Administration probe that led to searches in April 2010 of the Chirbans’ home and clinics, Phoenix Pain Management Center and Mesa Pain Management Center.

    Chirban surrendered his DEA license last year that permits a professional to prescribe narcotic painkillers and other controlled substances. On Wednesday, the Arizona Medical Board revoked his license to practice medicine in Arizona.

    An Arizona Republic review of Chirban’s prescribing records from the state’s Medicaid program showed he was the state’s most prolific prescriber of the addictive painkiller oxycodone. The state’s Medicaid records showed he wrote 5,712 prescriptions for three versions of painkillers — oxycodone, OxyContin and Roxicodone — at a cost of nearly $980,000 during 2008 and 2009.

    The Chirbans required or encouraged patients to fill prescriptions at pharmacies located next door to the pain-management clinics in Phoenix and Mesa.

    From January 2008 through April 2010, the Chirbans issued more than 2,400 prescriptions for oxycodone, 1,800 prescriptions for morphine and 300 prescriptions for methadone for non-medical purposes, the indictment alleged.

    Chirban told investigators that he fired his ex-wife in 2009 after learning she signed prescriptions with his name, but the indictment alleged that Marilyn Chirban continued to work at the clinic until April 2010 when it was closed following a DEA raid.

    The charge of conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances and illegal distribution of controlled substances each has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Health-care-fraud conspiracy, health-care fraud and transactional money laundering each have a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    Chirban is the second Arizona doctor in recent years who faced criminal charges in connection with fraudulently prescribing drugs from prolific pain-management clinics.

    In January, Dr. Albert Yeh pleaded guilty to three felonies and was sentenced to 2½ years in prison and five years’ probation. He surrendered $2 million in cash and agreed to pay more than $683,000 in restitution to AHCCCS.

    Reach the reporter at ken .alltucker@arizonarepublic.com.

    Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/business/articles/2011/12/14/20111214doctor-ex-wife-charged-prescriptions-fraud.html#ixzz1gcA89UxH

  14. tonya1968 had this to say about that:

    CDC: Prescription Painkiller Overdoses At Epidemic Levels
    November 19, 2011 5:40 AM
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    drug abuse, health, overdose, painkillers, prescription drugs, prescriptions DETROIT (WWJ) – The death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    This new finding shows that more than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers like hydrocodone (Vicodin), methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin), and oxymorphone (Opana).

    CDC Director Thomas Frieden said overdoses involving prescription painkillers are at epidemic levels and now kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined.

    The increased use of prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons (without a prescription for the high they cause), along with growing sales, has contributed to the large number of overdoses and deaths.

    In 2010, 1 in every 20 people in the United States age 12 and older—a total of 12 million people—reported using prescription painkillers nonmedically according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Based on the data from the Drug Enforcement Administration, sales of these drugs to pharmacies and health care providers have increased by more than 300 percent since 1999.

    In April, the Administration released a comprehensive action plan to address the national prescription drug abuse epidemic to reduce this public health burden.

    Titled “Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis , ” the plan includes support for the expansion of state–based prescription drug monitoring programs, more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home, education for patients and healthcare providers, and support for law enforcement efforts that reduce the prevalence of “pill mills” and doctor shopping.

    Already, 48 states have implemented state–based monitoring programs designed to reduce diversion and doctor shopping while protecting patient privacy and the Department of Justice has conducted a series of takedowns of rogue pain clinics operating as “pill mills. ”

    President Obama has also signed into law the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act, which will allow states and local communities to collect and safely dispose of unwanted prescription drugs and support DEA’s ongoing national efforts to collect unneeded or expired prescription drugs which have collected over 300 tons of medications over the past year.

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said almost 5,500 people start to misuse prescription painkillers every day.

    The prescription painkiller death rates among non–Hispanic whites and American Indians/Alaska Natives were three times those of blacks and Hispanic whites. In addition, the death rate was highest among persons aged 35–54 years. Overdose resulted in 830,652 years of potential life lost before age 65 years, a number comparable to the years of potential life lost from motor vehicle crashes and much higher than the years of potential life lost due to homicide.

    For the analysis, CDC reviewed state data on fatal drug overdoses, nonmedical use of prescription painkillers, and sales of prescription painkillers to pharmacies and health care providers.

    The study found:

    State death rates from overdoses (from 2008 data) ranged from a high of 27 deaths per 100,000 people in New Mexico to a low of 5.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Nebraska.
    Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers ranged from a high of 1 in 12 people aged 12 and older in Oklahoma to a low of 1 in 30 in Nebraska. States with more nonmedical use tend to have more deaths from drug overdoses.
    Prescription painkiller sales per person were more than three times higher in the highest state, Florida, than in the lowest state, Illinois. States with higher sales per person tend to have higher death rates from drug overdose.
    While national strategies are being strengthened, states, as regulators of health care practice and large public insurers, can take the following steps to help prevent overdoses from prescription

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