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Oxycodone indictments accuse NY medical professionals of being 'drug dealers in white coats'

10 charged across five indictments with selling millions of pills.

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has indicted 10 medical professionals for allegedly selling millions of oxycodone pills. Photo Credit: Louis Lanzano

Several doctors and other medical professionals were charged in separate cases for allegedly selling millions of oxycodone pills, resulting in several fatal overdoses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said on Thursday.

A total of 10 people were charged in five separate indictments and one complaint, including five doctors, a nurse practitioner and a pharmacist practicing in and around the city. All 10 were arrested either Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.

"Doctors who take an oath to care for their patients should be in the first line of defense against opioid abuse, never the cause," said Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, adding: "There is no part of this city that is not touched by the opioid epidemic... Instead of caring for their patients, these doctors were drug dealers in white coats."

Berman said the doctors and medical professionals charged wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions, including some paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, and "did it for cash and expensive gifts," including cruises and high-end whiskey. Berman added that some doctors also worked with people who recruited patients and then purchased their prescription medication from them to sell on the street.

In one case, a Queens clinic prescribed more than 6 million oxycodone pills to the tune of more than $5 million in office visit fees paid in cash, according to prosecutors. In another, prosecutors said people would show up in the middle of the night to the office of one Staten Island doctor, who allegedly prescribed nearly 1 million pills.

In another case, a doctor with offices in the Bronx and Westchester allegedly accepted gifts, including all-expenses-paid trips and expensive dinners, in exchange for writing pescriptions.

"A license to practice medicine is not a grant of immunity. Doctors overprescribing opiods with prescription pads and pens are as deadly as drug dealers with pre-paid phones and guns," Berman said, adding about the arrests: "I think it makes a real dent in opiod pescriptions... we're going to aggressively pursue doctors and pharmasists who prescribe this medication that's not medically necessary."

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said one way to stop the opioid epidemic is to investigate and arrest people "who so clearly betrayed their professional oaths, put illegal profits about their own integrity and certainly above the wellbeing of their fellow man."

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