Nurse, dentist, doctors, charged with drug distribution

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP/WTVF) — More than a dozen medical professionals have been charged with illegal distribution of painkillers.

Kenneth Parker is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. Parker announced an indictment Wednesday against 14 defendants in Ohio, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, West Virginia and Tennessee. Parker says 12 of the defendants were licensed medical professionals when they were charged.

Among the allegations are that a Kentucky dentist’s illicit prescribing of morphine led to a patient’s 2020 overdose death. The U.S. Department of Justice said the dentist issued three opioid prescriptions to a 24-year-old patient over a five-day period. The patient died from a morphine overdose allegedly from the prescriptions during that time.

A separate case involves a former nurse and clinic director in Tennessee who is accused of unlawfully obtaining opioid pain pills for personal use and further distribution by filling fraudulent prescriptions under the names of current and former hospice patients. Court records say the defendant used the patients’ hospice benefits to cover the cost of the prescriptions.

According to the justice department, a third case involves a doctor in Kentucky who is accused of unlawfully prescribing opioids to patients whose health care treatments were paid for by taxpayer-funded programs.

Overdose deaths attributed to opioids have continued to rise in the country, even as the crisis was overshadowed by the coronavirus epidemic.

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