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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Look, Everybody. It's Raining Pills!

"Nearly 90 percent of the OxyContin ordered by physicians 
in the first half of 2010 came to Florida." 
(Brian Bandell, South Florida Business Journal, February 23 2011)

If you don't think the country is awash in oxys, consider the Sunshine State, sunny Florida.

According to his arrest warrant, Dr. Jeffrey Lipman at Midtown Pain Management in Miami-Dade prescribed hundreds of oxycodone pills without so much as an examination

In the first six months of 2010, he ordered up 288,560 oxy pills for his patients. But, there are more prolific oxy docs in the United States. 39 of them work out of South Florida pill mills. (Fred Grimm, "Pill-mill Arrests Hit Right Target: Doctors Cranking Out Oxycodone Prescriptions," The Miami Herald, February 23 2011)

How much money is being made? Consider this federal indictment. The indictment against Davie, Florida resident Vincent Colangelo, allegedly the primary owner and manager of seven pain clinics and a pharmacy that were illegally distributing narcotics without medical justification, seeks forfeiture of more than $22 million in cash and assets. Colangelo’s operation made a profit of $150,000 a day, said Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami field office.

Officials seized more than 46 vehicles as part of the investigation. The Dodge Vipers, Lamborghinis, Bentley and Rolls-Royce lined up outside the DEA office in Weston made it look like an exotic car show. Agents also seized a trailer park in Okeechobee and a home in Davie’s Imagination Farms.

The U.S. attorney charged that Colangelo owned the following clinics that dispensed more than 660,000 dosage units of oxycodone, most of it without a legitimate medical purpose:
  • Atlantic Medical Solutions, Pompano Beach
  • Seaside Pain Management/Commercial Medical Group, Fort Lauderdale
  • Broward Urgent Care, Fort Lauderdale
  • All Pain Management, Dania Beach
  • Friendly Urgent Care, Pembroke Park
  • VIP Pain Center, Miami
  • Urgent Care and Surgical Care Center of Fort Lauderdale/Integrated Medical Group
  • Friendly Pharmacy, Fort Lauderdale
The clinics were held in nominee names, according to the indictment.

Tell It Like It Is reporter Marianne Skolek, an activist for victims of OxyContin throughout the United States and Canada, can tell you how mills operate and what happens when the heat comes down.

"In Florida, these pill mills have lines of people out on the sidewalk waiting to receive their OxyContin prescription. Medical histories and physical examinations are not part of these pill mill doctors standard of care. When word gets out on the street that a pill mill doctor is a 'supplier,' their practice becomes a popular meeting place.

"When addictions and deaths surface as a result of the lack of medical care by these 'alleged' physicians, the Drug Enforcement Agency steps in. That's when Purdue Pharma and their Pain Societies yell 'foul.' According to them, the DEA should not have a say in the medical treatment given by a licensed physician.

"But then, when the DEA steps in to investigate these pill mill doctors and closes down their drug operation, the State Medical Boards also step in and remove the pill mill doctor licenses to practice medicine. So there goes the theory from the Pain Societies and Purdue Pharma that the DEA should not be 'policing' the pill mill doctors who are licensed to practice medicine. Their medical license has been taken away. 

"Recently a newspaper story was published about a physician linked to patient deaths whose attorney has filed a defamation suit. Here's where the saying 'this stuff can't be made up' comes into play. A doctor whose prescriptions have been linked by federal officials to the deaths of at least eight people is suing the attorney representing the families of some of his deceased patients, claiming the victims' attorney defamed the doctor's name in published newspaper stories.

"This 'doctor' had his medical license revoked after an investigation by the DEA. The victims' attorney is not easily intimidated by this doctor, or the attorney filing the lawsuit. (The attorney is a relative of the 'defamed doctor'). The lunacy continues with the doctor's attorney saying his client's 'standing in the community has been damaged' because the victims' attorney gave an interview to a newspaper saying the doctor practiced outside normal or acceptable practices of medicine.

"The DEA also made strong statements about the doctor's practices when it closed down his medical office and subsequently his license to practice medicine was taken away. At the time, the DEA said that allowing the physician to prescribe controlled substances 'constitutes an imminent danger to public health and safety.'

"So where does this doctor, whose sterling standing in the community has been damaged, go from here? Does his attorney sue the DEA agents who closed down his practice? And why stop there... Why not sue the State Medical Board for revoking his license? After all, who wants their reputation ruined in the community? And why not sue the families of the victims -- after all, if they hadn't died, it wouldn't have resulted in a lawsuit against the pill mill doctor.

"If it's any consolation to this pillar of the community physician, I am quite sure that one of Purdue Pharma's 'pain societies' will step up to the plate to support the pill mill doctor by erecting a billboard on the highway saying the doctor did not kill anyone. They like billboards. They also like posting videos on the Internet. One was particularly offensive to me and I'm sure scores of families who have lost loved ones to OxyContin. They are quoted on camera as saying 'It is fun to kick the government around.'

"Here's my advice to pain societies to 'kick around.' The victims of OxyContin and their families don't like to be kicked around -- and my guess is the government agencies closing down and indicting the pill mills run by drug lords in 3-piece suits posing as doctors -- don't take to being 'kicked around' either. Maybe you need to have your fun somewhere else." (Marianne Skolek, "Defending Pill Mill Doctors -- Give Me a Break,", January 9 2010)

Marianne's article:


Too many gaps exist in the pill mill game. How hard can it be to see the tremendous numbers of pills that are dispensed and take tough action against all who engage in this criminal process? Timely response is necessary.

No, not necessary -- MANDATORY. It's time to punish the weasels who profit on death and addiction. It's time to let them know that "passing the buck" of blame won't work anymore.

The public must demand that state medical boards do a better job of policing doctors and their shady operations. New, tighter controls must be enacted. And, unethical doctors should never be given privileges of practice anywhere. No doctor should be allowed to float from state to state, from pill mill to pill mill, using his profession to poison America with tons of deadly prescriptions. Enough is enough! The crime here is murder in the first degree.

What could be worse than an MD sworn to protect the health of the public who decides to throw caution to the wind for money? Maybe, Big Pharma is worse. No, not worse, Big Pharma is the WORST. Isn't it about time to make them pay for the health epidemic that's sweeping the nation? It's time to cut the distribution that is so evident and so deadly. And, it's time to compensate all those victims who have been devastated by the black rain of lethal rx drugs. Without the collusion of drug manufacturers, pill mill operations could not exist.

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