Raid on Dallas Pill Mill yields more details

May 2012 raid on Dallas Pill Mill yields more details, including the name of the doctor who allegedly owned and operated the lucrative criminal enterprise.

Dr. Lee Roy McCurley

 

The name of the physician who allegedly owned and operated the South Dallas Pill Mill has been released. According to the Texas Medical Board,  Leeroy McCurley, M.D. is a family practice physician. Dr. McCurley appears to have no specialty training whatsoever in pain management. Dr. McCurley is not board certified in family practice or any other medical specialty, which according to many doctors is the "gold standard" for physician competence. 

In my experience, it is not uncommon to see family practice doctors self-declare themselves as pain management specialists. And, to my knowledge, there is no requirement that a doctor receive any type of special training in pain management in order to prescribe any quantity or combination of potentially lethal narcotics.

However, let’s be mindful of the fact that based upon what we know thus far, it wouldn’t appear that there was any medicine being practiced at this clinic. By all accounts it appears to be a storefront drug dealing operation, which operated for well over a year in plain sight.

I have often questioned the motives of physicians who like Dr. McCurley become involved in a criminal operation like what has been alleged in this case. We really don’t have to look much further than what was reported in the newspaper as $2 million dollars per year in cash.

Even though we do see the occasional raid like this one, there still remains the potential for enormous cash profits with very low probability of arrest and prosecution. Therefore, as long as white coat drug dealing is profitable the pill mills will flourish.. People will continue to die and the prescription drug epidemic we have in this country will continue to claim lives.

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Dallas Pill Mill Raided

On May 1 ,2012 a Dallas medical clinic was raided by local and state authorities. The allegations stem around the accusation that the doctor who owned the clinic was operating a pill mill.

 

On May 1, 2012,  local and federal officials descended upon a Dallas medical clinic suspected of operating as a pill mill.

Details are lacking at this time about the identity of the doctor accused of operating a Dallas Pill Mill. However, it has been reported that this doctor has previously been sued and may have also operated a similar practice in Grand Prairie, Texas.

I am anxiously awaiting the news of this clinic and doctor and will hopefully have more to report soon. It is good to see Law enforcement acting on clinics like these that seem to operate their questionable practices in broad daylight. 

To read more about how to spot a pill mill, click here to read an article I previously wrote on the subject.

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Elderly Pradaxa Patients Most at Risk for Serious Bleeding Events

An elderly Utah man suffered a Pradaxa serious bleeding event after sustaining minor trauma in a fall. Doctors worry that minor falls in elderly Pradaxa patients may be disastrous because Pradaxa has no antidote.

 When an 83 year-old man went to University Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah after falling at home and suffering minor trauma, his doctors never imagined he would suffer a Pradaxa serious bleeding event.

Minor Trauma Can Cause a Pradaxa Serious Bleeding Event

A case report featured in the Journal of Neurosurgery details that the 83 year-old man had been prescribed Pradaxa just a month before by his primary care physician who had diagnosed him with atrial fibrillation.  Upon arriving at the hospital, the man exhibited no signs of impairment, and a brain scan showed that he had only small hemorrhages of little concern.

Within just two hours of being admitted to the hospital though, the man’s condition began to deteriorate.  New brain scans showed he was suffering from extensive intracranial hemorrhaging.  His doctors could do little but stand by and watch as he slipped into a coma. 

The neurosurgeons who treated the man wrote this case report to alert other healthcare providers to the fact that Pradaxa has no known antidote.  In fact, the doctors attempted to stop the hemorrhaging in the 83 year-old by giving him intravenous fluids and recombinant factor VIIa, which is often used to clot blood, but both treatments were ineffective.

The authors noted that because Pradaxa is broken down through the kidneys, dialysis may be the only way to reverse the effects of Pradaxa, but because bleeding events happen so suddenly, dialysis is often ineffective to stop the bleeding.

What is Pradaxa?

Pradaxa is an anticoagulant that is widely prescribed to prevent strokes and blood clots in elderly patients with atrial fibrillation.  But these elderly patients are often unstable on their feet and are prone to falling, which can cause minor trauma and major hemorrhaging.  Experts worry that as Pradaxa is more widely prescribed to older, frailer patients, the number of serious bleeding events will increase.

Worldwide, Pradaxa has been linked to 260 deaths as of November 2011.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a safety communication for Pradaxa in December 2011, saying that it would study Pradaxa’s side effects to determine the risk of severe bleeding.  In the United States, an estimated 120 deaths have been blamed on Pradaxa serious bleeding events.

While the FDA studies these adverse events, trial lawyers across the nation are standing up for consumer rights, asking manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim for answers.  Pradaxa lawsuits have been filed in U.S. district courts across the nation, alleging that Boehringer Ingelheim knew about the bleeding risks, but provided no antidote and continued to market and sell Pradaxa anyway.

To learn more about Pradaxa serious bleeding events and get the latest news on Pradaxa, visit www.vanweylaw.com.  Pradaxa is not the first dangerous drug to be approved by the FDA, and it certainly will not be the last.  To learn more about dangerous drug approvals, download my free ebook Prescription Drug Safety: 7 Secrets the Pharmaceutical Company Does Not Want You to Know at www.vanweylaw.com

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Senator Warns FDA about New, Stronger Painkillers

New York Senator Charles Schumer is warning the FDA that approving a new painkiller containing pure hydrocodone could have disastrous consequences across the nation. Painkillers that contain hydrocodone currently on the market are known to be highly addictive and have caused fatal overdoses.

New York Senator Charles Schumer has seen the effects of prescription drug addiction in his state and has vowed to fight it.  He warns that a new painkiller promising to be 10 times stronger than Vicodin could lead to more violent and deadly drug store robberies.

In June 2011, New York resident David Laffer was charged with robbing a Long Island drug store of more than 10,000 highly addictive prescription painkillers and killing four people in the pharmacy.  He and his wife had been doctor shopping before the robbery in an effort to get prescription pain pills like hydrocodone, which is highly addictive.

Nationwide, more than 1,800 pharmacies have been robbed in the past three years alone.  Long Island alone has experienced a 125 percent increase drug store robberies.

“It’s tremendously concerning that at the same time policymakers and law enforcement professionals are waging a war on the growing prescription drug crisis, new super-drugs could well be on their way, flooding the market.  The FDA needs to grab the reins and slow down the stampede to introduce these powerful narcotics” Senator Schumer said.

The new painkillers, which contain pure hydrocodone, could come onto the market as early as 2013, with big pharmaceutical companies looking to cash in on the $10 billion prescription painkiller market.  At present, hydrocodone is classified as a strictly controlled Schedule II drug under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. 

Products that contain hydrocodone and another painkiller like acetaminophen fall into Schedule III, which is less strictly controlled.  Some experts argue that because of this, highly addictive hydrocodone has been given to more patients, which has increased abuse of the drug and overdose rates in the United States.

A prescription painkiller that contains pure hydrocodone could lead to more accidental overdoses, leading to more emergency room visits.  Experts say that already thin hospital emergency room resources could become even more strained if this new drug is allowed on the market.  In 2008 alone, emergency room visits related to hydrocodone abuse totaled more than 86,000, up more than 400 percent from 2000 when an estimated 19,000 visits were recorded.

To learn more about prescription drug addiction, read my article “America’s Growing Addiction” at www.vanweylaw.com

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A Tribute to Ken & Esther Scarborough

The Scarborough family of Kountze, Texas, has been instrumental in the fight against prescription drug addiction. After their son died from a prescription drug overdose, the Scarboroughs realized the need to help other families who had lost a loved one.

Far too many families have been devastated by a loved one’s addiction to prescription drugs. Unlike the images we conjure up when we think of a typical drug addict, the faces of prescription drug addiction are the faces of ordinary Americans. One of the casualties of prescription drug addiction was Christopher Scarborough, the 25 year-old son of Ken and Esther Scarborough of Kountze, Texas.

I came to know the Scarboroughs when I represented them in a legal case, which sought to hold the negligent parties accountable for Christopher’s death and to raise awareness about these pill mills, which often masquerade as pain management clinics. In the lawsuit, we alleged that the healthcare providers and clinic owners were nothing more than “drug dealers” who were trying to pass off their “pill mill” as a legitimate pain management clinic.

When Christopher went to this walk-in “pain management clinic,” he was prescribed a cocktail of more than 300 highly addictive narcotic pills, without even receiving an exam or seeing a doctor. Shortly thereafter, Christopher tragically died of an accidental overdose.

Rather than dwell on their son’s heartbreaking death, the Scarboroughs have chosen to help other families who have lost loved ones to prescription drug addiction and accidental overdose.

Since their son’s death, the Scarboroughs have worked every day to fight against the prescription drug epidemic in their son’s name. In 2009, they founded Parents Against Prescription Drug Abuse (PAPDA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. They have also testified before the Texas Senate, worked to pass legislation to regulate the so-called pain clinics, given countless talks, and comforted other parents who have also lost their children to prescription drug overdoses.

The Scarboroughs need your help to continue their fight. You can help by making a tax deductible contribution to PAPDA at www.papda.net. Your contribution, no matter how slight, will help Ken and Esther keep fighting every day to prevent the reckless prescribing of narcotics from claiming another innocent life.

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Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths on the Rise

Deaths due to prescription drug overdose have nearly tripled within the past 10 years. Experts say that irresponsible doctors are to blame for the abuse of highly addictive prescription painkillers.

(Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new report detailing that as many as 40 Americans die each day from overdosing on prescription painkillers.  That amounts to nearly 15,000 deaths each year.

Deaths due to prescription overdose are now more common than deaths caused by heroin and cocaine combined.  And the problem does not look like it will be ending anytime soon.  Prescription painkiller overdose deaths have increased three times over within the past decade.

80% of the World’s Painkillers are Taken in the U.S.

Director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, blames irresponsible doctors for the uptick in prescription painkiller abuse.  He and other CDC experts have estimated that in 2010 enough painkillers were prescribed to supply every American adult with a one-month supply.

More than 600,000 doctors are licensed to prescribe opiate-based painkillers.  Vicodin is one of the most popular prescription painkillers, because it is not as strictly regulated as its counterparts, making it easier for doctors to prescribe.  In fact, 99 percent of the entire world’s supply of Vicodin is used by patients in the United States.

Accidental Overdoses from Prescription Painkillers Now Kill More People than Car Accidents in 17 States

The overprescribing of prescription painkillers is not only causing death, it is also costing an estimated $72.5 billion.  And, three of the hardest hit states are Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Florida.

The federal government has proposed expanding statewide prescription drug monitoring programs to monitor electronically the number of painkillers prescribed in each state.  But critics say these programs will not work alone.  Patients need to be educated about the dangers of abusing and overdosing on prescription painkillers.

National Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske says doctors need to be retrained on writing prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers.  He adds that people with moderate pain, such as back pain, should not be prescribed these highly addictive painkillers.

To learn more about America’s epidemic of prescription drug addiction, read my article “America’s Growing Addiction” at www.vanweylaw.com.

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Florida Attempts to Crack Down on Pill Mills

Florida has been criticized as being the “Pill Mill Capital of the U.S.” But a new database to track the prescribing and filling of prescription drugs is a needed addition that could help stop the state’s prescription drug epidemic.

Dallas dangerous drug attorney Kay Van Wey talks about pill mills

Known as the “Pill Mill Capital of the United States,” Florida has seen its fair share of problems associated with prescription drug abuse.  

But legislators are hoping to change the state’s bad reputation by implementing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which keeps track of when, where, to whom, and by whom a prescription containing a controlled substance is prescribed.

Florida is not the first state to implement a prescription drug database.  More than 30 states currently have these databases in place.
 
Under Florida’s database, doctors and pharmacists must register beginning October 1st and will have seven days to file information regarding prescriptions for certain drugs that contain controlled substances.  Doctors and pharmacists will be able to check a patient’s prescription history before writing or filling any prescriptions.  Lawmakers hope that this will prevent pharmacy-hopping and give doctors an outlet in which suspicious activity can be reported.
 
Currently, nearly seven Floridians a day overdose on prescription drugs.  And according to Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi, more people are dying from overdosing on prescription drugs than they are from overdosing on illegal drugs.  
 
In 2010, doctors in Florida bought 89 percent of all Oxycodone sold in the United States.  That same year, the state had 1000 pain clinics up and running, but tougher laws have shut down 400 of them within the past year. And so far, 80 doctors have had their licenses suspended for prescribing large numbers of pills to patients without clear medical needs.  A doctor in Palm Beach County has even been charged with murder for prescribing a patient drugs on which he later overdosed and died.
 
As of now, the program must rely on private contributions and federal grants to continue running through June 30, 2012. The legislature is not allowing the program to accept donations from pharmaceutical companies in general, and particularly Purdue Pharma, the maker of the most widely abused prescription painkiller, OxyContin, which offered the program a donation of $1 million.
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Lipitor More Effective than Zocor

In a recent study, high dose statin drugs were found to increase a person’s risk of getting type-two diabetes. Researchers from that study are now saying Lipitor should be prescribed over Zocor (generic Simvastatin), despite the higher cost of Lipitor.

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In a recent study out of the United Kingdom, researchers from St. George’s University, the University of London, and the University of Glasgow, found that high dose statin drugs increased the risk of patients contracting type-two diabetes.  But when the study compared Lipitor to Zocor and its generics, researchers found that Lipitor was more effective in decreasing the patient’s risk of a heart attack.

 
This finding comes on the heels of the FDA announcement that Zocor’s labeling would be changed to reflect newer restricted prescribing practices of the drug.  Zocor and its generic, Simvastatin, will no longer be prescribed at the 80 mg dosage to patients who are new to the drug.  And patients taking certain other drugs may have to limit their intake of Zocor because of possible adverse drug reactions.
 
Where patients do need a high dose of statins though, doctors may have to chose the pricier Lipitor, which costs $1.20 a day, over generic Simvastatin, which costs a mere $0.04 a day.
 
Over the five-year study, researchers found that more than eight percent of participants developed diabetes, while 20 percent of patients had a major heart problem.  The study did not look at the recent findings by the FDA that 80mg Simvastatin can cause severe muscle damage and deterioration.
 
Professor Kausik Ray of St. George’s University noted that patients already taking high doses of statins should not stop taking these drugs, but should be monitored by their doctors more closely.  But he reiterated that “[t]he net benefit of Simvastatin is clearly very low and patients on Simvastatin 80 mg should be moved to Atorvastatin 80 mg instead.”
 
Unfortunately, for those without health insurance, Lipitor will be more costly than Simvastatin.  “I don’t think we can wait for loss of [Lipitor’s] patent to stop using Simvastatin 80 mg,” Ray said.  
 
Lipitor is scheduled to lose its U.S. patent protection this coming November.
 
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