15 medical professionals charged in Western Tennessee in federal opioid bust
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sixty people, the majority being medical professionals, are facing charges in connection to contributing to the opioid epidemic.
Fifteen of them charged are in Western Tennessee. One nurse practitioner even branded himself the “Rock Doc” for prescribing opiates, sometimes in exchange for sexual favors.
Victoria Love, a patient at Turning Point Addiction Campus, told us the pain her opioid addiction’s brought her and her family. “I love them very much and they don’t understand why mommy can’t quit,” she said.
Love said it all started at 18-years-old when she was prescribed Lortab after a surgery.
“At the time they were just daily prescribing them, daily prescribing them and then all of the sudden they want to cut you off, so then you start turning to other ways to use. I got to where I couldn’t get out of bed without them.”
After nearly a decade-long battle she’s now getting help at Turning Point Addiction Campus.
Executive Director Lori Minor talks to patients with similar stories daily. “They tell us every single day that they got those prescriptions from somewhere, and where did they get those prescriptions from? Our medical providers,” said Minor.
That’s why she’s encouraged that the Department of Justice is charging 60 people across the country with contributing to the opioid epidemic. Nearly all of them are medical professionals.
“[I’m] not surprised but stunned.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says they found doctors illegally writing prescriptions, sometimes in dangerous combinations.
Fifteen people were charged in Western Tennessee, with more than half of them being doctors.
“It’s kind of a catch-22. They’re making money, we’re getting what we want. It becomes an easy for them to give it,” said Turning Point patient Kenneth Newton.
Newton said he experienced this with his own addiction.
“He started giving me more and more, and when I couldn’t get it from him, I went fishing, which basically means I went and found the right doctors who would give me the right medicine.”
He said it’s good to see the feds are cracking down and hopes it’ll help others out there.
“Maybe if that had happened while I was out there addicted to it, maybe I wouldn’t be here right now.”
The Department of Justice said the charges involve more than 350,000 prescriptions and more than 32 million pills.
WREG has obtained indictments for some of the doctors charged in the bust.
Nurse Practitioner James Litton is charged with conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances. He’s accused of issuing prescriptions for drugs such as Oxycodone and Hydrocodone outside of the “usual course of professional practice.”
Dr. Thomas Hughes from Memphis is charged with nine counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and aiding and abetting. He’s accused of fraudulently issuing prescriptions to himself for testosterone.
Dr. Richard Farmer is charged with nine counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances and aiding and abetting. He’s accused of prescribing patients in exchange for sexual favors, failing to see patients before prescribing them, failing to require urine drug screens before issuing prescriptions and prescribing patients with dangerous combinations of drugs.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from addiction, contact Turning Point at 1.888.614.2251.