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Alabama “pill mill” doctors get 20 year prison sentence

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j2717 (Published 05 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2717
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Two Alabama pain specialists who took kickbacks from an opioid manufacturer to prescribe immense quantities of fentanyl have been sentenced to 20 and 21 years’ imprisonment.

John Patrick Couch received a 20 year sentence and his business partner Xiulu Ruan 21 years after both were convicted of a slew of federal charges, including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to receive illegal kickbacks, conspiracy to prescribe controlled substances including fentanyl, and racketeering charges.

Couch and Ruan ran two clinics as part of their company Physicians’ Pain Specialists of Alabama.1 They also owned a pharmacy attached to one of their clinics that processed most of the opioid prescriptions. Both were heavy prescribers of fentanyl, a drug heavily implicated in the epidemic of …

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