Tag Archives: drug enforcement administration

Recent Pill Mill Bust in Florida Dubbed “Operation Pill Street Blues”

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A statewide pill mill bust that spanned several Florida cities was announced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Florida law enforcement on June 27, 2012. Seven doctors and seven pain clinic owners were arrested. The raid has been dubbed “Operation Pill Street Blues” by the DEA.

To view the DEA’s press release concerning the raid, click here.

Manslaughter and Trafficking Among Charges Against the Doctors and Pain Clinic Owners.

The doctors and pain clinic owners are facing a long list of charges. Some of the alleged offenses include: racketeering; conspiracy to commit racketeering; manslaughter; trafficking in a controlled substance; conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance; delivery of a controlled substance; illegally prescribing a controlled substance by a practitioner; illegally prescribing a controlled substance (oxycodone hydrochloride) by a practitioner-trafficking amount; workers compensation fraud; and money laundering.

Investigation Unveiled Ring of Pill Mills Spanning Across Florida.

The arrests follow a two year investigation led by the DEA in conjunction with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, Vero Beach Police Department, and the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution. The investigation began in Vero Beach in November 2010 after the DEA received complaints about a pain clinic that was allegedly writing a large amount of narcotics prescriptions.

During the investigation, DEA agents uncovered eight more pain clinics in Miami, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Gainesville and Pensacola that were allegedly involved in the same operation. DEA agents also learned that some of the pain clinics were allegedly owned by two active Pompano Beach firemen.

Pain Clinic Owners Allegedly Studied Other DEA Pill Mill Busts to Avoid Detection.

According to the DEA, the pain clinic owners allegedly researched public records relating to past DEA investigations such as Operation Pill Nation and Operation Oxy Alley. One of the pain clinic owners also allegedly educated others at the clinics on how to successfully report their competition to law enforcement.

Wire Intercepts, Informants, and Undercover Agents Used in Pain Clinic Investigations.

The investigation into the pain clinics involved the use of judicial wire intercepts, informants, and under cover visits to the pain clinics. Undercover agents allegedly visited each of the seven doctors charged. The agents were allegedly prescribed approximately 2,732 oxycodone tablets.

Law Enforcement Raids on Physicians, Pharmacists, Nurses and Other Health Providers Will Continue.

According to the DEA, Operation Pill Street Blues is an ongoing investigation. Additional arrests of co-conspirators, including other doctors and health providers, are forthcoming, according to the DEA. If you are a physician, pharmacist, nurse, or other health provider, ensure you are taking measures to protect yourself and your practice.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with DEA Cases.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH), and other law enforcement agencies.

If you are aware of an investigation of you or your practice, or if you have been contacted by the DEA or DOH, contact an experienced health law attorney immediately.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources Include:

Ro, Mia. “Federal Investigation Takes Down New Breed of Pill Mills in Florida.” Drug Enforcement Administration. (June 27, 2012). Press Release. From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/states/newsrel/2012/mia062712.html

Roberts, John. “DEA, Florida Police Arrest 14 in Pill Mill Bust.” Fox News. (June 6, 2012). From http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/06/27/statewide-pill-mill-bust-involves-florida-municipal-workers/#ixzz1zBvQuGgC

About the Author:  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

Medical Marijuana Legalized in Connecticut: Will More Problems Develop for Doctors, Pharmacists?

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The use of marijuana for medical reasons has been legalized in Connecticut. The state’s governor signed into law HB 5389 on May 31, 2012, which allows licensed physicians to certify a patient’s use of marijuana for medical purposes. Connecticut is the 17th state to legalize marijuana for medical use.

To view Connecticut HB 5389, click here.

Medical Marijuana Legislation in Connecticut Imposes Restrictions on Patients.

The new law outlines restrictions to prevent abuse of the substance. Patients and caregivers in Connecticut must register with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, a doctor must certify there is a medical need for marijuana to be dispensed. HB 5389’s qualifying medical conditions are cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries causing spasticity, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, and PTSD. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is authorized to add additional medical conditions.

Special License Needed for Pharmacists to Dispense Marijuana for Medical Use.

According to HB 5389, only a pharmacist with a special license can dispense medical marijuana. Pharmacists can obtain marijuana from licensed producers, who will pay an application fee of at least $25,000.

Majority of HB 5389 Provisions are Effective October 1, 2012.

The majority of the bill will go into effect on October 1, 2012, including a provision to allow patients to obtain a temporary registration to possess marijuana while the department implements the remainder of the act.

New Legislation Could Mean More Issues for Physicians, Pharmacists.

The passing of HB 5389 could mean more issues for physicians and pharmacists in Connecticut. Because the bill places many restrictions on the medical use of marijuana, the state may closely monitor the actions of physicians and pharmacists who prescribe and dispense medical marijuana.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources Include:

Clark, Mary Ellen. “Connecticut is the 17th State to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use.” Reuters. (June 1, 2012). From http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/01/us-usa-marijuana-connecticut-idUSBRE85018X20120601

About the Author:  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

Doctors and Nurse Practitioner Arrested in Prescription Drug Abuse Raid

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A crackdown on prescription drug abuse by New York law enforcement has resulted in the arrests of 98 people. Two doctors and a nurse practitioner were among those charged.

A series of raids were carried out by Brooklyn federal prosecutors, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), district attorney’s offices, and local law enforcement agencies. The raids began June 5, 2012 and resulted in the arrests.

To view the DEA’s press release concerning the raid, click here.

Both Doctors Accused of Overprescribing.

One of the doctors is accused of conspiring to distribute oxycodone to patients that were not legitimate. Allegedly, the doctor surrendered his DEA registration. This terminated his authority to prescribe controlled substances such as oxycodone. However, he allegedly attempted to use other health care practitioners to continue to prescribe drugs, which the government contends is illegal.

Another doctor involved in the crackdown is charged with illegal distribution of oxycodone. During the execution of a federal search warrant at his offices on March 1, 2012, the doctor voluntarily surrendered his DEA registration. However, he allegedly continued to issue prescriptions to those whom he knew were not legitimate patients.

We continually warn against “voluntarily relinquishing” DEA registrations or medical licenses with any investigation pending as this is treated the same as a revocation in most cases. For an article we have written on this, click here.

Florida Has Experienced Similar Prescription Drug Abuse Crackdowns.

Starting around two years ago, Florida health providers involved in narcotics precribing became routine targets for law enforcement. This was part of a concerted effort by state and federal officials to crackdown on “pill mill” operations. Regulations increased. Lawmakers enacted severe penalties for doctors and other health professionals accused of over-prescribing. Most physicians were banned from dispensing drugs in their offices. The governor created a Florida drug “strike force” with a mission to eliminate any pain clinics that were found to be breaking the law. The Florida Surgeon General and the Board of Medicine made announcements about the “crackdown” on “over-prescribing.”

Since the implementation of the new pain management and prescribing laws, the Florida strike force has made thousands of arrests and seized millions of pills of narcotics. This has resulted in serious concerns by those in the pain management profession.

Law Enforcement will Continue to Pursue Physicians, Pharmacists, Nurses and Other Health Providers.

The recent raid in New York and ongoing actions in Florida demonstrate that law enforcement will continue to pursue health professionals who prescribe large amounts of narcotics.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Overprescribing Charges and DEA Cases.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources Include:

Allen, Jonathon. “Doctors Arrested in New York Prescription Drug Crackdown.” Reuters. (June 7, 2012). From http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/06/06/usa-crime-painkillers-idINL1E8H6E3J20120606

CBS News. “98 Arrested in NY Prescription Drug Sweep.” CBS News. (June 6, 2012). From http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57448268/dozens-arrested-in-ny-prescription-drug-bust/

McKenzie-Mulvey, Erin. “U.S. Attorney Lynch, District Attorneys, DEA, Other Law Enforcement Announce Prescription Drug Initiative.” Drug Enforcement Administration. (June 7, 2012). Press Release. From: http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/states/newsrel/2012/nyc060712a.html

About the Author:  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

DEA’s Medical Marijuana Research Ban Appealed by Professor

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor is appealing a final order issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that has stopped him from growing marijuana for medical research purposes.

Appeals Court Hears Oral Arguments in Medical Marijuana Research Case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit heard oral arguments in the case on May 11, 2012. During the hearing the DEA attempted to get the case thrown out by claiming that the court has no jurisdiction over the issue. The court’s ruling should come in about three months.

To hear the oral arguments presented in this case, click here.

DEA’s Final Order Rejected Administrative Law Judge Recommendation.

The DEA issued a final order to the professor in August 2011. The order rejected a 2007 recommendation by a DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) which stated that it was in the public interest to grant the professor’s research license. To view the DEA’s Final Order, click here. There is already one lab or research facility that is doing something similar to this.

Professor Has Waited Over a Decade for DEA License.

The professor first applied for a DEA license in June 2001. He intended to start a marijuana production facility at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst under contract to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). MAPS is a non-profit research and educational organization that hopes to develop marijuana into an FDA approved prescription medicine.

Appeals Court Ruling Could End Medical Marijuana Research Supply Monopoly.

Both the professor and MAPS have been struggling with the DEA to obtain permission to grow marijuana for FDA-approved research since 2001. The appeals court decision in this case could conclude the eleven year battle and possibly end the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research. A University of Mississippi laboratory funded by NIDA is currently the only facility in the United States permitted to grow marijuana for research (but we can’t reveal where it is).

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with DEA Actions.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are experienced in handling all types of DEA cases, including final orders, investigations, DEA registration number revocations and more. If you are currently facing adverse action by the DEA contact one of our attorneys by calling (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001. You can also visit our website for more information at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Elliot, Steve. “Appeals Court Accepts Challenge of DEA’s Marijuana Research Denial.” Toke of the Town. (May 10, 2012). From:
http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/05/appeals_court_accepts_challenge_of_deas_marijuana.php

MAPS. “MAPS Efforts to Obtain a DEA License for a Medical Marijuana Production Facility.” Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. (2012). From:
http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/

MAPS. “U.S. Appeals Court To Hear Oral Arguments In Case Challenging DEA’s Denial Of License For Medical Marijuana Production Facility.” PR Newswire. (May 10, 2012). From:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-appeals-court-to-hear-oral-arguments-in-case-challenging-deas-denial-of-license-for-medical-marijuana-production-facility-2012-05-10

Smoker, Jay. “Federal Appeals Court Will Hear Case Against DEA For Denying Medical Marijuana Research.” The Weed Blog. (May 11, 2012). From:
http://www.theweedblog.com/federal-appeals-court-will-hear-case-against-dea-for-denying-medical-marijuana-research/

About the Author:  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

Cardinal Health’s Settlement With the DEA Results in Shipment Suspension

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Cardinal Health and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have reached a settlement which will suspend Cardinal Health’s ability to ship controlled substances from its Florida distribution facility for two years. The company will now supply controlled substances from its distribution center in Jackson, Mississippi.

Cardinal Health’s Settlement Does Not Prevent the DEA from Pursuing Civil Penalties.

The settlement was announced on May 15, 2012. It includes an Administrative Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), the terms of which will apply to all of Cardinal Health’s registered distribution facilities. The MOA will not prevent Cardinal Health from possible civil penalties related to the DEA’s case against the pharmaceutical distributor.

The obligations in the MOA will remain in effect for five years unless the DEA agrees to an earlier termination. Some of the terms require Cardinal Health to improve anti- diversion procedures and keep track of narcotics distributions.

Click here to view the Memorandum of Agreement between Cardinal Health and the DEA.

Cardinal Health’s History with the DEA.

On February 3, 2012, Cardinal Health’s Florida distribution center was served with an Immediate Suspension Order (ISO) from the DEA. The ISO alleged that the distribution center did not maintain effective safeguards against the diversion of controlled substance, including oxycodone.

According to the DEA, Cardinal Health’s Florida facility shipped a large quantity of oxycodone to four Florida pharmacies. The DEA alleged that Cardinal Health did not ensure that these drugs only went to legitimate patients.

The February 2012 ISO was not the DEA’s first action against Cardinal Health’s Florida distribution center. In 2007, the DEA issued an ISO at the facility because it allegedly distributed hydrocodone to illegitimate internet pharmacies. That action, and similar DEA actions at other Cardinal Health facilities across the United States, resulted in a $34 million fine.

Cardinal Health has been operating under an Administrative MOA with the DEA since October 2008. This MOA required Cardinal Health to maintain a compliance program designed to detect and prevent the diversion of controlled substances (as required under the Controlled Substances Act).

According to the DEA, Cardinal Health did not comply with the terms of the October 2008 MOA, which is partly why the agency issued the February 2012 ISO.

Cardinal Health Pursues Litigation Against DEA.

Cardinal Health had filed litigation to challenge the DEA’s decision to impose the ISO, shortly after it happened. Click here for a copy of the Complaint filed in Federal Court in Washington, D.C. Ultimately the federal courts ruled against Cardinal Health on February 29, 2012. For a copy of the Court’s decision against Cardinal click here.

Click here to view other blogs regarding the Cardinal Health case.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with DEA Cases.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians and other health provders in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources Include:

DEA Public Affairs. “DEA Suspends for Two Years Pharmaceutical Wholesale Distributor’s Ability to Sell Controlled Substances from Lakeland, Florida Facility.” United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Press Release. (May 15, 2012). From
http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/pressrel/pr051512.html

Milford, Phil and Tom Schoenberg. “Cardinal DEA Settlement Calls for Two-Year Shipping Halt.” Bloomberg. (May 15, 2012). From
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-15/cardinal-dea-settlement-calls-for-two-year-shipping-halt.html

About the Author:  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

DEA Has Online List of Cases Against Doctors

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a public list of physicians with DEA registrations that have been arrested and prosecuted. On the DEA’s website, there is a list of all investigations of physician registrants in which the DEA was involved that resulted in the arrest and prosecution of the registrant which was updated and released on April 3, 2012.

The list includes:
• The name of the physician;
• The physician’s city/state;
• Date of arrest/conviction;
• Judicial status;
• Conviction;
• Status of the physician’s DEA registration; and
• Remarks regarding the physician’s case.

Click here to view a copy of the most recent list (last updated on April 3, 2012).

We cannot vouch for the validity of the information on the DEA’s list. We just know it was published.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with DEA Cases.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are experienced in handling DEA cases. If you are currently being investigated or facing other adverse action by the DEA contact one of our attorneys by calling (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001. You can also visit our website for more information at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author:  George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

College Student Drinks Own Urine to Survive After DEA Forgets He Was in Cell

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A college student was left in a small holding cell by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for five days without food, water, or a toilet. He believes that the DEA forgot about him. He was taken by agents during a late April 2012 drug raid on his friend’s house in which nine people were arrested.

Student Drinks Own Urine to Survive After Being Abandoned by the DEA.

According to a law enforcement official who has reviewed this case, the student was never arrested, was not going to be charged with a crime and should have been released.

Instead, he was left handcuffed and placed back in a 5-by-10-foot cell, where he remained for several days with no food or water. The student says that he yelled and tried shoving his clothes under the door so that someone would realize that he was there. Eventually, he said he had to drink his own urine after being without water. He suffered from dehydration and allegedly began to hallucinate.

DEA Accidentally Left Methamphetamine Student’s Holding Cell.

The abandoned student reportedly stated that he broke his own glasses and began carving “Sorry Mom” into his arm but stopped after the “S.” Additionally, he ingested a white powder DEA agents said was accidentally left in the cell and was later identified as methamphetamine.

Numerous media accounts of this event have been published including by the Associated Press and Delaware Online.

When he was eventually found, paramedics took him to a hospital. He spent three days in intensive care and five days total at the hospital before leaving.

DEA Apologizes to the Student.

The DEA has acknowledged that the student was accidentally left in the cell and has issued an apology. The agency is investigating how this incident happened.

Student Now Seeking Up to $20 Million in Compensation.

The student’s attorney has sent a five page demand letter to the DEA’s general counsel in Washington D.C., which calls the student’s treatment “torture.” The letter also requests that all federal agencies preserve any evidence related to the case, including video, interview notes and written reports.

The student is seeking up to $20 million in compensation for the incident.

Perseverance of Engineering Students.

I believe this incident, which is horrendous and never should have happened illustrates the perseverance of engineering students. Not to make light of the situation, Survivorman could not have done better. One wonders how such an event could happen in our country.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling DEA Cases.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are experienced in handling DEA cases. If you are currently being investigated or facing other adverse action by the DEA contact one of our attorneys by calling (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001. You can also visit our website for more information at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources Include:

Associated Press. “Calif. Man Forgotten in Cell Says He Drank Urine.” Delaware Online. (May 2, 2012). From http://www.delawareonline.com/viewart/20120502/NEWS01/120502037/Calif-man-forgotten-cell-says-he-drank-urine

Caldwell, Alicia. “DEA Apologizes to College Student Left in Cell.” Delaware Online. (May 2, 2012). From http://www.delawareonline.com/viewart/20120502/NEWS01/120502047/DEA-apologizes-college-student-left-cell

Gastaldo, Evann. “Student Forgotten in DEA Cell Wants $20M.” Newser. (May 3, 2012). From http://www.newser.com/story/145323/student-forgotten-in-dea-cell-wants-20m.html

McDonald, Jeff. “Abandoned DEA detainee seeks $20 million.” UT San Diego. (May 2, 2012). From http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/may/02/abandoned-dea-detainee-seeks-20-million/

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.