Law enforcement tested a promising antidote for Florida’s oxy epidemic Wednesday – doctors in handcuffs.
Arrests of so many drug-addled users and low-rent street dealers hardly matters. Not compared to that ignominious image of Dr. Zvi Harry Perper led out of a “pain management clinic” in Delray Beach Wednesday. That stuck at the very nub of the pill-mill industry. In tan scrubs and steel cuffs. Dr. Perper on a perp walk.
Fifteen pill mills were raided in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. A few oxy street dealers and a handful of clinic employees were arrested, all replaceable entities in the pill-mill business model. But five doctors were busted. Seven others “voluntarily” surrendered their federal license to prescribe narcotic medicines. Doctors, cranking out oxycodone prescriptions for phantom pain and fake injuries, are the essential elements.
While a doctor may be a crucial to a pill mill, actual doctoring is just a bother. Undercover agents, posing as patients, were prescribed hundreds of oxycodone pills without so much as an examination by Dr. Jeffrey Lipman at Midtown Pain Management in Miami-Dade, according to Lipman’s arrest warrant.
It was easy to see why the DEA might have been suspicious of Lipman’s bedside manner. In the first six months of 2010, he ordered up 288,560 oxy pills for his patients. (There are more prolific oxy docs in the United States. All 39 of them work out of South Florida pill mills.)
The agents told the doc of prior drug abuse and taking oxy with alcohol. They described only minimal pain. In Dr. Lipman’s waiting room, another patient, who said he planned to sell his pills in North Carolina, asked an agent (who he thought was from Tennessee), “How easy was it to sell up there?” The doctor even discussed the “street value” of the oxy he was dispensing with the undercover agents. He figured $8 to $16 a pill.
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