Thursday, March 31, 2011

No. 1 prescriber of Hydrocodone nabbed in pill mill bust: DEA

KHOU reports:
     HOUSTON – A Houston doctor and 18 co-conspirators have been arrested in connection with illegal pain-management clinics in the area, the DEA announced Wednesday.
     According to the DEA, Dr. Gerald Ratinov -- a licensed and registered Texas physician – was the No. 1 prescriber of Hydrocodone in the state.
     Hydrocodone is a prescription painkiller that’s sometimes taken with Alprazolam and Carisoprodol – a combination popularly described as the "Houston Cocktail."
     Investigators said Ratinov acted as the medical director of at least three pain clinics in Harris County without proper certification and while he was under judicial review by the Texas Medical Board.
     The clinics – Hobby Medical Clinic on Reveille Street, Abundant Life and Weight Loss Center on Hillcroft and Astrodome Pain Clinic on Westridge – were used, along with select pharmacies, to fill fraudulent, medically unnecessary prescriptions for clients, the DEA said.
     Thanks to the arrests, the clinics and their four related pharmacies can no longer dispense illegal pharmaceuticals on the streets of Houston.
     Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos applauded the efforts leading to the arrests.
     "This is an example of the superb cooperation between federal and local authorities to protect our citizens." Lykos said. "The DEA conducted a brilliant investigation and has stopped a dirty doctor and his cohorts from continuing to profit from the wretchedness of addiction. We will do our part to vigorously prosecute Ratinov and his co-defendants."
     The multi-agency investigation was led by the DEA and the Harris County DA’s Office, with participation from the Texas Medical Board, the Texas Pharmacy Board, the Texas DPS, the Fort Bend County and Harris County sheriff’s offices, HISD, HPD, Pasadena police, Harris County Precinct 2, Harris County Precinct 6 and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
     "Doctors and pharmacies have an obligation to comply and operate within the parameters of the law. Dr. Ratinov chose not to do so, which lead to an investigation by DEA and our law enforcement counterparts, resulting in the arrest of Dr. Ratinov and others who blatantly violated the law," Thomas E. Hinojosa, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

TMB to begin selling data through website

Watch our homepage for a new link that will let you purchase TMB data products online! The products are the same as before -- new physicians, complete listing of TMB licensees and disciplinary actions, etc. But now, instead of sending an email and a check to us, you can complete your transaction electronically.

Launch is expected this Friday, March 4 .....

From the Houston Chronicle

15 Texas doctors cited in illegal drug sales

7 physicians from the Houston area disciplined in ongoing crackdown


Feb. 26, 2011, 7:14AM

The Texas Medical Board this month disciplined 15 doctors — including seven from the Houston area — for improperly dispensing dangerous drugs, part of an ongoing crackdown of a burgeoning illicit industry of doctors and pharmacists illegally dispensing prescription medicine.
Houston in particular has become a national hub for the illegal sale of prescription drugs, especially a narcotic known by such brand names as Vicodin, anti-anxiety drugs and muscle relaxants.
"These numbers just show how pervasive the pill problem has become. Both the appetite for the drugs and the willingness to prescribe," said medical board spokeswoman Leigh Hopper. "The crackdown on the prescription drug problem is one of our big priorities. We are taking full advantage of our new authority to investigate pain clinics that was granted in the new law that took effect in September."
The new law mandates stricter regulations such as requiring all pain management clinics be doctor-owned.