Intended for healthcare professionals


Accused Alabama doctors each wrote an opioid prescription every four minutes on average

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 13 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3790
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. 1Montreal

Federal prosecutors have disclosed the indictment against two Alabama partners who wrote tens of thousands of prescriptions for opioid painkillers each year, many of which, the government alleges, went to people with no medical need for the drugs. But the prosecutors have redacted the names of the drug companies that paid the doctors for their services.

Xiulu Ruan and John Patrick Couch were charged two months ago with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances not for a legitimate medical purpose and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.

Their practice, which operated its own pharmacy on the premises, was in the top 10 buyers nationally for several commonly misused opioids, including oxymorphone, fentanyl, morphine, and methadone.

In 2014 Ruan wrote 34 883 prescriptions for controlled substances, which would represent more than one every four minutes if …

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