Category Archives: Crime

Costco pharmacist claims he was fired for whistleblowing: ABC

pillsscatteredA former Costco pharmacy technician is suing the retail giant, claiming he was fired after raising concerns and contacting law enforcement about doctors he believed were over-prescribing powerful painkillers, ABC Los Angeles reports. Shad Thomas says he red-flagged seven local doctors over the years – including Dr. Lisa Tseng, the Rowland Heights former physician now awaiting trial on three counts of second-degree murder for the overdose deaths of three patients, and another who he claims prescribed 7,000 oxycodone to a single patient in one year. Costco has a bonus program for pharmacy managers that is partly based on sales, incentivizing managers to allow addicted patients to continue filling massive scripts, according to ABC News.

See more of ABC News’ reporting on painkiller abuse in southern California here.

Posted in Crime, Informational, Pharmaceutical Industry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calif. medical board probing doc tied to 16 OD deaths: LAT

RXThe Los Angeles Times continues its investigative series on prescription drug addiction, this time turning the spotlight on a prominent Orange County physician who has allegedly been tied to 16 fatal overdoses. The paper, which had earlier reported on Dr. Van Vu – a pain management specialist in Huntington Beach – as part of its series, says the state medical board has now opened an investigation of its own concerning the physician.

The LA Times recently issued a report finding that the California Medical Board has repeatedly failed to protect patients from reckless prescribing by doctors: it rarely tries to suspend the prescribing privileges of doctors under investigation, and even when it imposes sanctions, in most cases it allows doctors to continue practicing and prescribing. The Times’ examination of board records and county coroners’ files from 2005 through 2011 found that eight doctors disciplined for excessive prescribing later had patients die of overdoses or related causes; prescriptions those doctors wrote caused or contributed to 19 deaths.

Posted in Crime, Informational | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ky. drug dealers may face homicide charges for ODs

In Kentucky, where prescription drug and heroin addiction are rife, lawmakers plan to go after dealers with legislation that would allow homicide charges against those whose customers die of an overdose, according to this article. Senate Bill 6 would amend state statutes to make it clear that death from an overdose is a foreseeable event and allow prosecution for criminal homicide in such cases, the article says. Legislators are hoping the move will deter out-of-state dealers from coming to Kentucky to sell drugs.

Officials in other states have used similar laws to prosecute dealers. Though it is usually difficult to determine where a person obtained a drug after they die of an overdose, suspects are rarely charged with selling a drug that caused someone’s death. But in places like Massachusetts and Florida, authorities are becoming more willing to pursue such charges.

The number of heroin samples analyzed by the Kentucky State Police crime lab has increased 211% since 2010, according to this article. There were 433 samples analyzed in 2010, but that jumped to 1,349 samples last year, the article says.

Posted in Crime, Informational, Litigation, Policy & Regulation, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYPD to use GPS ‘bait bottles’ to track illegal pill sales

The New York Police Department says it plans to use an innovative approach to combat the theft of painkillers by asking pharmacies to hide fake pill bottles fitted with GPS devices amid the legitimate supplies on their shelves, this article reports. The NYPD says the initiative was prompted by a rash of high-profile crimes associated with the thriving black market for oxycodone and other prescription drugs in recent years, including the slaying of four people on Long Island during a pharmacy holdup in 2011, the article says. Officers will ask roughly 6,000 pharmacists and 1,800 pharmacies in the New York City area to adopt use of the bottles, which can be tracked in the event of a robbery or theft.

The GPS devices will be provided by Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin – the most-abused medicine in the United States.

New York has suffered brutally at the hands of the prescription drug addiction epidemic, and experts say things have only gotten worse since the quadruple homicide at a Medford, N.Y. pharmacy in 2011. According to this article, there were 92 instances in Nassau in 2011 in which prescription opioids were linked to overdose deaths – a tally higher than either of the previous two years and more than triple the 2004 figure. Forty-five of those deaths happened after the Medford killings, the article says.

Posted in Crime, Informational, Policy & Regulation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Calif. medical board failed to police reckless doctors: LAT

The Los Angeles Times continues its investigative series on prescription drug addiction with this report on two doctors who inappropriately prescribed painkillers, leading multiple patients to overdose and die – raising questions about the adequacy of the state’s medical board.

According to the newspaper, the California Medical Board has repeatedly failed to protect patients from reckless prescribing by doctors: it rarely tries to suspend the prescribing privileges of doctors under investigation, and even when it imposes sanctions, in most cases it allows doctors to continue practicing and prescribing. The Times’ examination of board records and county coroners’ files from 2005 through 2011 found that eight doctors disciplined for excessive prescribing later had patients die of overdoses or related causes; prescriptions those doctors wrote caused or contributed to 19 deaths.

Posted in Crime, Informational, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Good Samaritan’ bill nixed in N.J.

In New Jersey, where prescription drug addiction is a huge problem, advocates of drug overdose victims are criticizing Gov. Chris Christie’s rejection of a Good Samaritan bill. The governor claimed the measure was too narrowly focused on encouraging more reporting of drug overdoses, rather than other aspects such as drug abuse deterrence, violence prevention and public safety.

Good Samaritan laws aim to reduce overdose deaths by protecting people who call for medical help for overdose victims from being prosecuted for personal possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking. Even though opiate overdoses are on the rise, many people don’t call 911 out of fear of arrest and prosecution, and instead rely on ineffective methods of reviving victims. Nine states – New York, Illinois, Washington State, New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut – have already enacted such laws, and similar measures are currently pending in several others.

Posted in Crime, Informational, Policy & Regulation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drug dealer hit with 21-year sentence for heroin death

A federal judge has sentenced a one of three Massachusetts men charged with selling heroin that killed a woman in 2009 to 21 years in prison. The 29-year-old man had pleaded guilty earlier this year to participating in a heroin distribution conspiracy, according to the U.S. Department of Justice in Boston.

Since it is usually difficult to determine where a person obtained a drug after they die of an overdose, suspects are rarely charged with selling a drug that caused someone’s death. This case may signify that authorities are becoming more willing to pursue such charges. In a similar case in Wisconsin, two men who provided heroin that killed a 20-year-old woman are each facing more than 40 years in prison if they are convicted of first-degree reckless homicide. And in the realm of prescription drugs, Florida resident Jeff George pleaded guilty last year to felony second-degree murder in the overdose death of Joey Bartolucci, a 24-year-old addict who died in February 2009 after taking hydromorphone and other drugs. Jeff and his brother Chris, who were accused of running the largest illegal pain clinic network in the country, were eventually sentenced to 15 and 17 years in prison.

Posted in Crime, Informational | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In N.Y., pill addiction epidemic shows no signs of slowing

New York has suffered brutally at the hands of the prescription drug addiction epidemic, and experts say things have only gotten worse since last year’s quadruple homicide at a Medford, N.Y. pharmacy. According to this article, there were 92 instances in Nassau in 2011 in which prescription opioids were linked to overdose deaths – a tally higher than either of the previous two years and more than triple the 2004 figure. Forty-five of those deaths happened after the Medford killings, the article says.

Meanwhile, Suffolk had 177 such cases in 2011, the most ever recorded by the county medical examiner’s office; 80 of those deaths occurred after the murders, the article says.

Prescriptions for oxycodone in New York rose by 82 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to a recent report issued by the state’s attorney general. Almost 22.5 million prescriptions for all types of narcotic painkillers were written in the state in 2010, with an especially high quantity of prescriptions being written on Staten Island and in large areas of Suffolk County, the report says.

Posted in Crime, Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prescription drug bust in N.Y. nets 100 arrests

Nearly 100 individuals have been arrested in a law enforcement sweep targeting traffickers and health care practitioners accused of illegal prescription drug use in all five of New York’s counties. Prosecutors filed drug trafficking and other federal and state criminal charges against 98 defendants, including two doctors and a nurse practitioner, and have barred a Brooklyn pharmacist from dispensing prescription drugs.

New York has been cracking down on painkiller abuse. In May, the state passed a “Good Samaritan” law aimed at reducing overdose deaths by protecting people who call for medical help for overdose victims from being prosecuted for personal possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking. The state is now the largest in the nation to adopt such a measure. Washington state, Connecticut and New Mexico have all passed similar laws, and California, Illinois and Nebraska are currently considering them.

Overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in New York, where almost 22.5 million prescriptions for all types of narcotic painkillers were written in in 2010, according to a recent report issued by the state’s attorney general.

Even though opiate overdoses are on the rise, many people don’t call 911 out of fear of arrest and prosecution, and instead rely on ineffective methods of reviving victims.

Posted in Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lawyer David Michael Cantor on prescription drug addiction

In this guest post, Arizona lawyer David Michael Cantor weighs in on prescription drug addiction in his state and throughout the nation.


All over the country, prescription drug abuse is running rampant. Whether the drug of choice is OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, or any other painkiller or prescription medication, the fact is that people are abusing these drugs at an alarming rate. In a recent survey, over 7 million Americans reported using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in the past 30 days. In 2006 and 2007, the Department of Health in Arizona reported a 41% increase in drug-related deaths among children and teenagers. The problem is becoming an epidemic and with more and more baby boomers getting older and having health issues, there are more pills available.

Prescription pain medication is one of the most widely abused drugs throughout the nation and in Arizona. In 2008, 10.5% of high school seniors in Arizona admitted to using a prescription pain reliever in the last 30 days. According to the DEA, 56% of teens believe prescription drugs are easier to get than illicit drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are OxyContin, Codeine, Percodan, Percocet, and Vicodin.

Posted in Crime, Guest Posts, Litigation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment