Physicians under fire for opioid distribution: 4 suits in 10 days

Four lawsuits from the U.S. Justice Department have put physicians under fire for opioid distribution in the last 10 days. 

The four cases:

1. The Justice Department brought charges against an Alabama physician and business manager alleging healthcare fraud and the illegal prescription of opioids, WHNT reported May 4. 

According to court records, clinics run by Francene Aretha Gayle, MD, and Schara Monique Davis billed payers millions of dollars for patient visits that Dr. Gayle was supposed to have conducted but were instead conducted by other clinic staff. These patients were also allegedly given opioid prescriptions pre-signed by Dr. Gayle. 

2. Twelve medical professionals were charged with crimes related to illegal opioid distribution, the Justice Department said May 4.

In one case, a Kentucky dentist allegedly illegally prescribed a 24-year-old patient morphine as part of three opioid prescriptions within five days, the department said. The patient died from a morphine overdose, allegedly from one of the dentist's prescriptions.

Another case involves a former nurse and clinic director in Tennessee, the department said. The former nurse allegedly illegally obtained opioid pills for personal use and distribution by filling fraudulent prescriptions. The drugs were paid for with hospice patients' benefits.

3. Physician Janet Arnold, MD, was sentenced to four years in prison on opioid distribution charges, the Justice Department said April 27.

Dr. Arnold, 63, was also given a three-year federal supervised release period once she completes her prison sentence, the department said. She participated in a prescription drug scheme that pushed thousands of pills onto the street, the department said.

4. A former physician in El Paso, Texas, agreed to pay $350,000 to settle allegations that he didn't account for more than 11,000 opioid doses, the U.S. Justice Department said April 25.

Herbert Nassour, MD, who was registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration, allegedly violated provisions of the Controlled Substances Act by failing to properly account for doses of hydrocodone at his private practice. 

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