DEA Fines Las Vegas Pharmacy in Violation of Federal Drug Laws

Lam’s Pharmacy of Las Vegas agreed to settle civil charges that it violated federal drug laws on February 7, 2012. The settlement is a record $1 million to be paid by the non-chain pharmacy.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas have been working in unison to identify pharmacies violating federal drug laws and hold them accountable for their illegal acts.  On February 7, 2012, the work of these two units paid off when Lam’s Pharmacy of Las Vegas agreed to pay a $1 million settlement fine for violations of federal drug laws.

The DEA began investigating Lam’s Pharmacy in 2006, starting with the company’s receipt and distribution of controlled substances.  After years of investigation, the DEA took the evidence it had collected to Nevada’s U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, alleging that Lam’s had violated the Controlled Substances Act.

Lam’s violation of the Controlled Substances Act was a civil violation, rather than a criminal violation.  Still, Bogden stresses that “Civil settlements such as this are an extremely important component in our strategy to combat unlawful prescription drug trafficking in Nevada.”

The $1 million settlement is the largest civil settlement under the Controlled Substances Act against a pharmacy that is not a chain-operated pharmacy.  Bogden promises to continue to enforce violations of federal drug laws by physicians, pharmacies, and pharmacists both civilly and criminally.  The DEA has made clear to pharmacies that they have a corresponding duty not to participate in distributing controlled substances when no valid medical purpose exists.

Although Lam’s did not admit to any wrongdoing or liability, the company has agreed to surrender its DEA registration and pay the settlement within 14 business days. Additionally, Lam’s will be sold, but the business will continue to operate in Las Vegas under new management and a new name.

I would like to congratulate the Justice Department on successfully holding Lam’s Pharmacy accountable for its violations of federal drug laws.  I hope that both the DEA and Justice Department will continue to search out pharmacies that are contributing to the pill mill problem in this nation.

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

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Money Before Medicine

Schneider duo found guilty of operating pill mill.

On its seventh day of deliberations, a federal jury on Thursday, June 24 found Kansas  doctor Stephen Schneider and his nurse wife Linda Schneider guilty of conspiring to profit from illegally prescribing painkillers to patients, many of whom later died. The jury also found the Schneiders guilty on five counts of unlawfully writing prescriptions and on 11 health care fraud counts. The jury found Linda Schneider guilty of 15 money laundering charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway prosecuted the case, which consumed eight weeks of trial. In a 34-count indictment, the Schneiders were charged with conspiring to illegally distribute prescription drugs that contributed to 21 deaths, fraud, and money laundering. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

This was a case of “money before medicine,” Tanya Treadway said. According to the prosecution, about half of the 10,000 patients treated at the Schneider Medical Clinic received pain medication. The clinic was open 11 hours a day every day, had 14 exam rooms and  scheduled patients 10 minutes apart.  Prosecutors allege the clinic made $7 million in a little over four years through health care fraud. The Schneiders pocketed about $1.5 million. The prosecution put on evidence of 176 overdoses and 68 deaths related to the pill mill.

Dr. Schneider’s attorney, reportedly supported by the advocacy group Pain Relief Network that advocates for the right to pain treatment, argued that Dr. Schneider acted “with a pure heart.” He said that “what [Dr. Schneider] did with his patients, he did so innocently, he did so honestly, and he did so courageously.”

 

Curiously, Dr. Schneider chose to drive a bright yellow hummer emblazoned with skull and crossbones to and from the pill mill on a daily basis. I wonder what kind of message he was trying to send? Was he  in a state of deep denial or did he have  so little fear of ever being prosecuted for his pill peddling that he felt bulletproof? We will probably never know, but I am sure the vehicle represents to the victims everything that was wrong with the Schneiders and their so called medical practice.

Sentencing has not yet been set. The Schneiders could face up to a life sentence.  The Schneiders also will stand trial in several civil wrongful death lawsuits which have been filed against them.
 

 We applaud the courage of Tanya Treadway in stepping up to the plate to prosecute this case.  It takes hard work and effort to bring persons such as these to justice.  Prosecutions such as these must continue to happen. Pill mill operators need to go to jail  just like persons who peddle street drugs go to jail. Pill mill operators must also be held liable for monetary damages for the devastation that they are causing while lining their pockets with blood money.Hopefully, the combination of vigorous criminal and civil prosecution will stem the tide of prescription drug overdose deaths.
 

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