Conviction Of Doctor And Owner Of Bronx Clinic

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the conviction of KEVIN LOWE, the owner of “Astramed,” a purported medical clinic with multiple locations in the Bronx, New York, and from which more than five million tablets of the prescription painkiller oxycodone were unlawfully distributed over a three-year period…

LOWE capitalized on that black market for oxycodone by employing Board-certified, state-licensed doctors who were willing to write medically unnecessary prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone in return for cash. LOWE’s clinics, which accepted no insurance from patients seeking oxycodone prescriptions, typically charged $300 in cash for “doctor visits” that usually lasted just a minute or two, involved no actual physical examination, and consistently resulted in the issuance of a prescription for large doses of oxycodone, typically 180 30-milligram tablets, or a daily dosage of six 30-milligram tablets.

LOWE’s clinics bore little resemblance to a standard medical office. For example, on a daily basis, crowds of up to 100 people gathered outside the Astramed office on Southern Boulevard (the “Clinic”) clamoring to see one of the doctors at the clinic in order to obtain a prescription for oxycodone. Virtually none of these individuals had any medical need for oxycodone, or any legitimate medical record documenting an ailment for which oxycodone would be prescribed. Instead, most of these individuals were members of “crews” – that is, they were recruited and paid by high-level drug traffickers, oxycodone distributors (the “Crew Chiefs”), to pose as “patients” in order to receive medically unnecessary prescriptions from the Doctors. The Crew Chiefs then arranged for and oversaw the filling of the resulting prescription at various pharmacies and took possession of the oxycodone pills to be resold on the street. Crew Chiefs also paid the Clinic’s employees hundreds of dollars in cash at a time to get their Crew Members into the Clinic to see one of the Doctors.

In total, between approximately January 2011 and February 2014, Astramed Doctors issued 34,925 medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone, comprising nearly 5.5 million oxycodone tablets with a street value of more than $165 million. LOWE alone collected more than $7 million in cash for these sham “doctor visits” during this time period…

It’s very hard to believe that none of these people suffered from chronic pain — that they were “virtually” all scammers.  And what happens to the legitimate patients?  Are they now also labeled as criminals because of their association with these clinics?

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