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Fourteen people, including 12 medical professionals, have been charged with helping fuel the opioid epidemic across the Appalachian region, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Among the arrests, which spanned seven states, were a Kentucky dentist who issued three opioid prescriptions to a 24-year-old patient in five days in August 2020; the patient died from a morphine overdose.

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A former Tennessee nurse and client director allegedly filled fraudulent prescriptions in the names of current and former hospice patients and used the drugs for personal use and distribution, then used the patients’ hospice benefits to cover the costs.

A Florida pharmacist allegedly sold 219,567 pills of oxycodone and 112,840 pills of hydromorphone on the black market between 2019 and 2021.

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“Doctors and health care professionals are entrusted with prescribing medicine responsibly and in the best interests of their patients. Today’s takedown targets medical providers across the country whose greed drove them to abandon this responsibility in favor of criminal profits,” Anne Milgram, an administrator with the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in a statement.

“DEA will use every tool at our disposal to stop drug diversion and fraud. And we are working tirelessly each day to make our communities safer and healthier.”

In total, the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid (ARPO) Strike Force has charged 111 defendants, responsible for prescriptions for more than 115 million controlled substance pills, over the past three years, according to the DOJ.

Source: nydailynews

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