Articles Posted in Overprescribing

My law partner, Carl Lietz, has previously had good results when we represented medical doctors accused of over-prescribing pain medication. He has written earlier posts on this subject. We are seeing more and more of these cases, as shown by recent press releases and news reports. Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, just a few blocks away here in Atlanta, affirmed the conviction of a doctor, a pharmacist, and a physician’s assistant for conspiracy and dozens of counts of over-prescribing pain medications. The case is United States v. Joseph.

The case was prosecuted in the Middle District of Georgia where Dr. Green ran a clinic. His Physician’s Assistant was Ms. Mack, and most of the prescriptions were filled by a local pharmacist, Mr. Joseph. The Court of Appeals’ opinion recounts the usual evidence we see in such cases involving “pill mills”, hundreds of patients paying in cash or credit cards, no insurance, patients traveling long distances just to go this particular clinic, and limited or non-existent medical exams prior to writing or re-filling prescriptions for addictive pain medications.
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Recently, I read an article in Bloomberg Businessweek entitled: “American Pain: The Largest U.S. Pill Mill’s Rise and Fall.” Among other things, the article recounts the story of two brothers who were investigated and prosecuted in federal court for operating a number of pain management clinics in Florida, Georgia, and at least one other federal district. Ultimately, both brothers were prosecuted and convicted for a host of federal crimes, inluding RICO violations, fraud offenses, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, and federal conspiracy charges. Both brothers are serving sentences in federal prison of over 15 years.

These days, investigations and prosecutions of doctors, owners, and others associated with alleged overprescribing in pain management clinics are not surprising. As we have discussed before here, in federal courts in Atlanta, Savannah, and many other jurisdictions, federal agents and federal prosecutors are bringing aggressive prosecutions against all of those associated with the prescribing of controlled substances. For the most part, prosecutors bring charges under the Controlled Substance Act, arguing that the prescriptions at issue were issued outside the usual course of practice, a term of art that must be supported by expert testimony.
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