A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

AG Beshear files civil lawsuit against a ‘rogue drug treatment clinic’ for distributing addictive drug

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Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a civil lawsuit in Breathitt Circuit Court against an alleged rogue drug treatment clinic for Medicaid fraud, harmful business practices and illegal distribution of an addictive drug. 

The lawsuit names and alleges that four owners of The Recovery Center, with locations in Frankfort, Hazard, Jackson, Mount Sterling, London, Paintsville and Richmond, illegally prescribed Buprenorphine or Suboxone – a treatment for opioid addiction – to thousands of Kentucky Medicaid patients.
  
Beshear alleges that the clinic, while properly registered with the state to do business, illegally profited from Kentucky’s Medicaid program by falsely claiming it offered patients legally required medical advice and individualized treatment with each prescription.

“In our lawsuit we are calling these so-called clinics what they are – pill mills,” Beshear said. “The owners are strictly operating for profits and couldn’t care less about the health and safety of our families and neighbors who are struggling with addiction. It’s time they pay for their actions.

Beshear

“Thankfully Kentucky has Suboxone clinics who are working hard to help treat our people, but The Recovery Center isn’t one of them.”

Beshear early in his administration began looking into a statewide trend in the abuse of Buprenorphine medications by clinics that unlawfully prescribe medications to opioid addicted patients without treatment and counseling for their underlying addictions as state and federal law requires.

This activity, Beshear said, is similar to the opioid pill mills state officials targeted back in 2012.

“Now we are seeing a treatment for addiction being the cause of addiction due to the reckless behavior of clinic owners like those who run The Recovery Center,” he said. 

The lawsuit claims The Recovery Center carried out its illegal activity for nearly three years – April 2015 through February 2018.

Under law, a clinic is required to provide individualized treatment for each patient that includes steps to decrease dosages over time. The Recovery Clinic was billing Medicaid for spending 15 minutes with each patient in order to diagnose and prescribe, which is mathematically impossible given the number of prescribing physicians in the clinics.
 
As an example, the lawsuit claims on one business day in 2017 at the Jackson Recovery Center clinic location, the owners wrote 136 Suboxone prescriptions to Medicaid recipients.

All of the 136 prescriptions were for the exact same dosage, according to the lawsuit.

Beshear said his office recently raided The Recovery Center clinics in Hazard, Jackson, Paintsville and Richmond, and a criminal investigation related to that raid is ongoing.

Currently, Beshear has filed lawsuits against McKesson Corporation over unfair, misleading and deceptive business practices for excessively distributing opioids to Kentucky and Endo Pharmaceuticals for violating state law and directly contributing to opioid related deaths and overdoses in Kentucky from its drug Opana ER.

Beshear and House lawmakers want to create a permanent substance abuse trust fund to battle addiction, bolster law enforcement efforts and support drug abuse prevention efforts across the state.

Beshear has launched the state’s first initiative to allow Kentuckians to safely dispose of opioid medications at home, and his office has been instrumental in numerous drug related arrests, including working with federal authorities to arrest a fentanyl dealer whose drugs killed several Kentuckians.

His office has given millions to 15 state drug treatment centers across the state in an effort to get addicted Kentuckians proper treatment.

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