New York charged five doctors for prescribing millions of unnecessary opiates to their patients. State prosecutors describe doctors who led their patients down the dark path of addiction, and in some cases even death, solely for personal profit. The criminal complaint against the five doctors, which lists several other co-conspirators, including a White Plains pharmacist, is part of a string of lawsuits meant to hold reckless doctors, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies responsible for the opioid epidemic that seems to only grow worse each year.
According to New York prosecutors, these five doctors’ malpractice was so brazen that addicts from across the Northeast came to their clinics. Carl Anderson, one of the indicted doctors, ran a pill mill in Staten Island with “lines at all hours of the night,” according to The New York Times. Many of the doctor’s patients died from overdoses, including two of Anderson’s employees. According to the indictment, the crooked doctor received millions of dollars for the oxycodone prescriptions he carelessly wrote to his patients. Another doctor, Dante Cubangbang, ran a pill mill in Queens that wrote an astounding 3.3 million opiate prescriptions over a three-year period, the highest in New York State. A Manhattan psychiatrist prescribed 600,000 oxycodone pills to just 200 patients, warning them not to fill their prescriptions at chain pharmacies to avoid scrutiny.
Corrupt doctors choosing personal profit over their patient’s well-being have contributed to the opioid crisis ravaging families and communities across the country. While the number of opioid prescriptions peaked in 2012, the number of opiate overdoses continues to increase each year. Public health experts say that patients who became addicted to prescription pills moved to heroin and fentanyl, both cheaper and more accessible opiates. The CDC states that the use of fentanyl, an opiate roughly 100 times stronger than morphine, is currently the primary driver of America’s opiate epidemic. Authorities worry that fentanyl may not be the strongest opiate sold on America’s streets for long, though. Carfentanil, a drug 10,000 more potent than morphine, is now popping up in cities and states across the country in what public health experts fear is another dark twist to the opioid nightmare engulfing the country.
These indictments join other prosecutions and lawsuits being filed across the country. In New York, criminal charges were filed against five other doctors earlier this year for taking kickbacks and bribes from Insys, the manufacturer of a nasal spray with fentanyl. At the same time, municipalities and states across the country, including Westchester County and New York State, are filing lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies who deceptively marketed their opiates as non-addictive. While holding guilty parties responsible for the damage caused by their actions is necessary and noble, cities and states will need to be more proactive in helping those addicted if they hope to end this tragic crisis.