5 Doctors Charged with Running Illegal Opioid Pill Mills
As America’s opioid epidemic worsens, law enforcement and health officials have been looking for ways to curb this deadly threat. From promoting medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid prescriptions to taking down websites offering illegal opioid sales, the battle to end this public health crisis is being fought on many fronts. This includes holding doctors accountable for irresponsibly and unethically overprescribing opioids to patients without a legitimate need for the drugs. New York has become the latest state to champion this approach, as the state filed charges against five doctors for allegedly running illegal opioid pill mills.
On Thursday, October 11, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman held a news conference to announce that charges had been filed against five doctors, their co-conspirators, and one pharmacist relating to illegal opioid pill mills.
“There is no part of this city that is not touched by the opioid epidemic,” Berman said. “As alleged in today’s charges, instead of caring for their patients, these doctors were drug dealers in white coats.”
Among those charged is Dr. Carl Anderson, who maintained an office in Staten Island. Anderson is alleged to have distributed nearly a million oxycodone pills. Anderson’s office drew noisy crowds of people, some with visible signs of drug addiction, that would line up outside his office at all hours of the night seeking oxycodone prescriptions. Often, neighbors were forced to call the police due to the disturbance and concern for their safety. According to the indictments, several of Anderson’s patients – as well as two of his employees – died from overdoses.
Federal prosecutors have also charged an alleged street dealer named Arthur Grande, who is suspected of selling mass quantities of opioids obtained from Anderson.
Another doctor, Dante A. Cubangbang of Queens, is alleged to have prescribed 3.3 million pills that were paid for by Medicaid and Medicare over a three-year period. The indictment alleges that Cubangbang is the highest prescriber in the state, and raked in $5.7 million from patients. Cubangbang had previously been placed on probation by the state Heath Department’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct in May 2015 for failing to maintain accurate medical records and neglecting to check patients’ medical histories, including past opiate treatment. Federal prosecutors also charge three of Cubangbang’s associates, including one who allegedly bought pills for resale on the streets.
What is truly disturbing about this is that it’s far from a freak occurrence. From coast to coast, unscrupulous doctors are ignoring their duty and causing significant harm to patients by facilitating unnecessary and excessive opioid prescriptions. Illegal opioid pill mills like the ones described in these indictments operate in broad daylight in cities, suburbs, and rural communities throughout the country. And while encouraging safer alternatives and cutting off the black market supply of opioids is important, holding doctors who have been blinded by greed responsible for their role in the opioid epidemic is the only way to truly win this battle.
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