As Prescription Drug Addiction Soars, More Physicians Busted For Fraudulent Online Prescriptions

As Prescription Drug Addiction Soars, More Physicians Busted For Fraudulent Online Prescriptions

Six people, including five doctors and a sixth man who stole the identity of another unnamed doctor, and the corporation they operated, have been charged with conspiring to illegally distribute controlled substances through an Internet pharmacy. The suit seeks forfeiture of $41 million in proceeds from the drug sales, which, in a more perfect world, would be used to help pay for prescription drug detox and prescription drug rehab for the customers who are victims of prescription drug addiction.

Court records show that Medical Web Services operated more than 70 pharmacy web sites, and contracted with doctors and pharmacies across the country to fill drug orders made on the web sites. The 22-count indictment by the U.S. Justice Department accuses Medical Web Services and the six individuals of illegally distributing more than 12 million diet pills and other medications through 175,000 prescriptions nationwide. The Justice Dept. did not comment on how many customers or who among them might have been feeding their prescription drug addiction with the illegally obtained drugs.

Just last month, in an unrelated case, two physicians in Georgia and Texas pleaded guilty to similar charges for their role in approving more than a million bogus Internet pharmacy prescriptions for controlled substances. Operating under the name Affpower through numerous web sites for several years, the doctors grossed at least $126 million in illegal pharmaceutical sales by issuing prescriptions to anyone with the money to pay - ignoring a physician's responsibility to guard against prescription drug addiction and warn patients about the lethal dangers of various drug combinations. In that case, the feds are also seeking forfeiture of millions of dollars.

In this new case, the corporation Medical Web Services, five doctors and another man are charged with criminal conspiracy. According to the indictment, Stephen L. Ancier, 50, of Montclair, N.J.; David M. Baron, 61, of San Pedro, Calif.; Felix Rodriguez-Schmidt, 54, of Windermere, Fla.; Alexis Roman-Torres, 53, of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico; Kimberly Trever, 36, of Traverse City, Mich., are doctors who ran the operation. The sixth person, Iric Spears, 43, of Polk City, Fla., is not a doctor, but is accused of stealing the identity of another unnamed doctor, and authorizing prescriptions in that doctor's name.

As in the earlier case, a task force of numerous federal agencies cracked this multimillion- dollar online pharmacy operation. It's unknown, of course, how many customers are suffering from prescription drug addiction, and took advantage of the online drug pushers to feed their habits. But the millions of dollars that might be recovered from these and other cases would go a long way to help provide the medical drug detox and prescription drug rehab that many of them will need to recover their lives.

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