Groundbreaking news, folks…
60 medical professionals have been arrested in what the Department of Justice is calling the “largest operation of its kind.” All stand accused of writing illegal prescriptions for opiates — the very same drug at the heart of the current opiate crisis all across America.
Could this be the start of ending the opiate epidemic?
In today’s exciting expose, we’ll tell you about how the current opiate issue came to be and show you exactly why this case matters so much.
- Before we tell you more about this case, we want to preface the article with an acknowledgement that some patients really do need opiates, and that fact shouldn’t be ignored. Real, intractable pain can be exceptionally devastating, causing everything from depression to suicide, especially when all other avenues are exhausted.
- With that out of the way, let’s get down to the business of talking about the facts and discussing why unethical doctors play such a major role in the opiate epidemic. Overprescribing is a very real phenomenon.
- Disturbingly, a small but unfortunately impactful number of medical professionals have been flying under the radar for years, prescribing narcotics in exchange for everything from sexual favors to cold, hard cash.
- For decades, this was almost a known issue — but few talked about it openly for fear of offending people. Big Pharma played into this by talking up the idea of the importance of treating all pain, no matter how minor, while also trumping up drugs like Oxycodone as addiction-proof.
- These days, we know that all the claims about new-gen opiates were essentially false. While most legitimate pain control users don’t get addicted, people who are susceptible to addiction certainly can get hooked – and often, they suffer for a lifetime because of it.
- Several years ago, it became obvious that the number of opiates being prescribed was rising significantly. Detox centers and rehabs were seeing more and more people who had either become addicted via a prescription or who had accessed opiates through a friend or family member with a prescription.
- The DEA and HHS responded by recommending doctors pare back on unsafe prescribing practices — including “opiate clinics” where people could pay a doctor to prescribe them a drug, often regardless of their diagnosed condition.
- The crackdown had little effect at first; because addicts are inherently manipulative, they were able to use doctor shopping and social engineering to convince doctors to prescribe. In the meantime, real patients with intractable pain and/or in hospice began to suffer as doctors became afraid to prescribe.
- Over time, it became more and more obvious that the problem wasn’t doctors prescribing narcotics legally — it was doctors breaking the law and ethical protocols to benefit from what they prescribed. The healthcare industry also began to witness the fact that real patients were being punished, while addicts still seemed more than able to access their drug of choice.
- In an effort to stem the tide of opiates to the street, the DEA and DOJ launched an investigation at the national level. Their goal? Identify which doctors were really going out of their way to prescribe opiates illegally — especially if they were receiving gifts, cash, or kickbacks in the process.
- Doctors lost their licenses. Some were suspended, reprimanded, or even criminally charged…yet, drugs still continued to hit the street. Addiction numbers were now growing almost out of control, mostly due to Chinese Fentanyl and Carfentanil sales on the street, a market that flourished as addicts began to lose access to their prescriptions over time.
- Which brings us up to the most recent development: The DEA’s case. After an exhaustive investigation spanning several years, the DOJ officially arrested and charged 60 medical professionals for illegal prescribing. This includes 31 doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners and seven other as-of-yet-unnamed “licensed medical professionals.”
- Here’s the kicker: all of those arrests took place in one of 11 districts spanning across the Appalachian Region. This includes Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia, but why does this matter so much? Appalachia has been hit harder by issues with opiate addiction than nearly any other state.
- That’s shocking enough — but there’s even more to this story. Several doctors were exchanging prescriptions for sexual favors and cash. In at least one situation, a doctor had labeled himself “the Rock Doc,” peddling combination prescriptions for a highly dangerous mixture of Valium and opiates.
- Another involved doctor from Alabama wrote prescriptions for prostitutes, regularly inviting them to his home. There, they would use drugs together, exchanging sexual favors for pills. The women would then sell the drugs to local citizens on the street as they met with additional johns. Where else is this happening, unbeknownst to most Americans??
- FBI Executive Assistant Director Amy Hess, who originally announced the arrests to the press, made an energized statement on the matter. “We will not stand by and allow the harmful and oftentimes deadly practice of over-prescribing highly addictive drugs to continue unchecked,” she said. “The FBI will pursue medical personnel who misuse their positions of trust to blatantly disregard others’ very lives for their own financial gain.”
Could this be the start of a new era for the United States — or maybe even a final end to the opiate epidemic?
We need to protect legitimate patients from losing access to much-needed medication, but that doesn’t mean we should assume all doctors are telling the truth or honest. With major arrests like these, it becomes obvious that the real evil in healthcare is still out there and operating under the radar. That’s what we need to fix.