The investigations of physicians for prescribing scheduled drugs to patients including Oxycodone, Xanax, Soma and other medications continues. Last week on July 6, 2017, a physician Jeffrey Olsen D.O. was Indicted in the Central District of California, Case No. SA CR-17-76. Dr. Olsen is presumed innocent and an Indictment is not evidence.
One issue I have with these criminal cases is that in order to "catch" the physicians, the DEA will wait for a year or more to get the "evidence" to support criminal cases. In Dr. Olsen's case, the charges date from 2013 to January 2016. While it is not clear here, most cases I see have the government investigators sending in undercover agents and seeking to get evidence to support the criminal charges. In the meantime, allowing the physician to continue to prescribe. Public safety is being sacrificed to make sure the "criminal" case is as open and shut as possible.
In Dr. Olsen's case, the DEA went in on or about March 18, 2016 and suspended his DEA registration. There was no arrest or charges at that point in time but I suspect that his charts were seized or reviewed by the DEA.
The Indictment alleges that Dr. Olsen allegedly sold prescriptions to addicts and drug dealers in exchange for fixed cash fees, without any medical basis for the prescriptions. It is also alleged that during the investigation, Dr. Olsen also sold hundreds of prescriptions to addicts in other states, such as Oregon, without ever seeing the “patients” for an in-person examination.
It is alleged that in text messages to these out-of-state customers, Dr. Olsen allegedly told customers that, in exchange for fees up to $3,000, he would write prescriptions for them. It is alleged that Dr. Olsen let the patients select the medications and that he failed to follow the standard of practice and determine whether they were actually taking the prescribed drugs or whether they were getting additional narcotic prescriptions from other doctors.
It is alleged that Dr. Olsen's prescriptions resulted in more than 1.2 million pills of narcotics, which were almost entirely at maximum strength, in addition to hundreds of thousands of pills of other controlled drugs such as the sedatives Xanax and Soma. Dr. Olsen was charged with 34 counts of drug related charges under 21 U.S. Code Section 841(a)(1) for "distributing" oxycodone, amphetamine salts, alparzolam and hydrocodone to various patients who are listed by initials in the Indictment.
One questions why the Medical Board is not used to get an immediate administrative suspensions along with DEA when there is significant evidence of improper prescribing. Is it wise for the government to wait one or two years to "investigate" and build criminal cases just to make sure they can get high sentences against physicians?
The final count was for a violation of 21 US Code Section 843(a)(4)(A) for making an alleged False Statement in a DEA Registration Application. This relates to Dr. Olsen applying for DEA registration on or about May 23, 2016 and failing to disclose his DEA suspension on March 18, 2016. It is critical for physicians to ensure they do not make any misrepresentations in filling out these forms.
It is not clear if the government offered Dr. Olsen the opportunity to plea or cooperate before Indictment. However, these charges are heavy handed and could expose Dr. Olsen to 20 years' in custody and a mandatory minimum term. I still wonder what would have happened if the conduct had been stopped back in 2013 or 2014.
Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Green and Associates