Federal authorities in Arkansas continued a crack-down on prescription abuse recently by arresting a Little Rock doctor and 18 others for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. Since Jan. 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas has received the filing of six federal indictments charging 113 people, including five doctors, of illegal misuse of prescription drugs. The recent indictment accused a 49-year-old doctor of writing prescriptions for oxycodone and selling them for $500 each.
This segment of the prescription drug investigation was apparently begun in Nov. 2014 with the reported overdose death of an individual residing in Cabot. At that time, the Lonoke County Sheriff's Office asked federal authorities for assistance going forward. The investigation spread to White and Pulaski counties also.
The suspect had been arrested in May on a similar indictment allegedly involving 187 fraudulent prescriptions, consisting of about 16,830 oxycodone pills with a street value of $505,000. The doctor is charged with writing the prescriptions without examining the person, and in many instances, he allegedly did not even meet the person. Authorities say that all that was required to purchase a prescription was the name and birth date of a person.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas criticized the medical persons caught in the series of arrests regarding prescription drugs, comparing them to common, street-level drug dealers. If the facts in the case are overwhelming against the defendants, the negotiation of a favorable plea agreement will be counsel's main focus. It appears that the prosecutorial focus is being placed on the medical practitioners and that their ability to negotiate may possibly be limited. The most important information for the doctor in this matter may be any mitigating circumstances, such as personal drug addiction or the possibility that drug users and dealers used intimidating tactics to compel his cooperation.
Source: wmcactionnews5.com, "Arkansas doctor among 18 charged in conspiracy to distribute oxy", Sept. 2, 2015