HHS agents uncover WV clinic, doctors illegally prescribing pain meds

The Department of Health and Human Services has caught a ring of West Virginia clinicians at the Justice Medical Complex allegedly prescribing pain meds and handing them out "like candy." Federal agents started their investigation after they received a complaint in December 2007. An anonymous caller claimed that owners of the Justice Medical Complex, planned to attract patients by rubber stamping pain med prescriptions, and funnel them through two area pharmacies.

Federal officials learned that the Kermit Sav-Rite, one of two local pharmacies working with the Justice clinic, had sold about 3.2 million hydrocodone pills, compared with a national average of 97,431 per pharmacy in 2006 alone. The same pharmacy's gross sales for 2006 were $6.5 million. DEA investigators said the pharmacy filled about one prescription per minute. James P. Wooley is the owner of the two local pharmacies that agreed to fill the clinic's unusually high volume of prescriptions for pain medications. 

According to Special Agent M.A. Withrow of the HHS, "[Justice Medical] is a business that caters to individuals who seek controlled substances, especially pain pills/hydrocodone."

Dr. John Theodore Tiano, a cardiology resident at Marshall University, earned more than $250,000 signing prescriptions for pain meds  for Justice Medical between August 2005 and September 2007. Dr. Augusto T. Abad, who has a practice in South Williamson, KY, also allegedly rubber stamped prescriptions for the clinic.

A growing number of small clinics around the country have also been targets of local and federal investigations because of the suspiciously high volumes of pain medication prescriptions the write. Other similar investigations have shuttered or restricted clinics in Vancouver, WA, Pensacola, FL and Houston.

For more information:
- see this Charleston Gazette article
- also read this KPRC story