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Doctors played key role in South Florida pill mills

Miami Herald, August 25, 2011
A day after federal investigators busted the nation's largest pill mill crime enterprise, a fuller portrait of the role of doctors emerged as the engine behind a narcotics network that churned out more than 20 million oxycodone pills and $40 million in profits. While Christopher and Jeffrey George were cast as twin kingpins of the prescription drug market, their network of storefront pain clinics across South Florida were manned and supplied by 13 doctors, including six from Miami-Dade and Broward counties, records say. Federal investigators allege the doctors used their prescription pads to order vast sums of pills from wholesale pharmaceutical suppliers, then dispensed the pills to as many as 500 patients a day, some of them drug couriers from as far away as Appalachia, Mexico and Turkey. In return, the doctors were paid an average of $35,000 per week, the indictment says. And one Miami-Dade doctor was even offered a raise if he wrote more prescriptions. In the most striking case, a West Palm Beach doctor was charged separately by Palm Beach County prosecutors with first-degree murder in the overdose death of a 24-year-old patient who died within hours of filling his prescription for a painkiller. And investigators have linked other overdose deaths to doctors working in the four clinics run by the George brothers

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