Officials with the Department of Justice charged a West Virginia doctor accused of recklessly prescribing opioids between 2013 and February 2018 that were linked to fatalities.
Mike Stuart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, revealed Friday a grand jury in Charleston indicted Muhammed Samer Nasher-Alneam on nine counts of distribution of Schedule II controlled substances, including the opioids hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, and oxymorphone, not for legitimate medical purposes and beyond the bounds of medical practice,reports STL News.
Two of the counts allege the prescription opioids caused the overdose deaths of two patients in Dr. Nasher’s care. He allegedly had two different offices in West Virginia that he used to massively overprescribe opioid drugs. Investigators also found that Dr. Nasher was transferring his profits to Turkey to avoid drawing attention. (RELATED: Sessions Announces Charges For 601 People In Largest Health Care Fraud Bust In History)
“Due to the funding provided because of the incredible commitment of this administration and Attorney General Sessions, we are aggressively going after doctors, pharmacies and other medical providers that contribute to the opiate epidemic purely for money,” Stuart said in a statement Friday. “No medical provider should prey on individuals suffering from drug addiction for reasons rooted in personal greed.”
The Department of Justice under Sessions is making progress in the fight against both smugglers and medical providers taking advantage of the national opioid epidemic. Federal authorities have charged nearly 200 doctors for criminal activity linked to opioid medications since January 2017, along with 220 medical workers.
Drug overdose deaths surged in 2016 by 21 percent, claiming more than 64,000 lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase is driven primarily by opioids, which claimed 42,249 lives in 2016, a 28 percent increase over the roughly 33,000 lives lost to opioids in 2015.
The epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S., officials say. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.
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