The Los Angeles Times Reports On The Arrest Of A Doctor Accused Of Dealing Prescription Painkillers, Resulting In Multiple Deaths
In the Los Angeles Times today (1-5-2012), there is an important investigative piece about the arrest of Dr. Julio Diaz for allegedly prescribing addictive prescription painkillers to patients who had no legitimate need for the medications. In the article by Hailey Branson-Potts, Lisa Girion and Scott Glover, they report the story of the Santa Barbara doctor who has been linked by authorities to a dozen drug-related deaths in recent years.
After doing so much extreme damage to his community, Dr Diaz finally finally was arrested by DEA agents on federal drug trafficking charges. ONE80CENTER fully supports the regulative monitoring of the medical industry to make sure that the public is protected from such pill mill-like doctors. Yes, we know that most of the people getting the prescriptions have substance abuse disorders, but it does not help their disease to have easy access to prescription painkillers. It is a recipe for disaster.
Doctor Arrested For Dealing Prescription Painkillers
Here is an excerpt from the Los Angeles Times article that has been edited and shortened:
The arrest of Dr. Julio Diaz, 63, is a step in the right direction given the multitude of overdose deaths of his patients. Diaz has been under investigation for years for allegedly prescribing addictive painkillers to patients who had no legitimate need for the medications. The deaths are detailed in a 75-page arrest affidavit unsealed Wednesday afternoon after he was taken into custody. The deceased patients ranged in age from 26 to 58.
Among those who died: A 49-year-old father who overdosed on painkillers after recently completing a 60-day drug rehab and a 35-year-old mother found dead in her bedroom by her young daughter. In addition, the affidavit described a father distraught in the emergency room where his 20-year-old son had been brought for a drug overdose. He later learned that Diaz had been prescribing “huge quantities” of drugs to his son, who told investigators that he learned of Diaz from a fellow inmate in county jail. Three other parents made complaints to the Medical Board of California regarding Diaz’s treatment of their children, the affidavit states.
The affidavit depicts Diaz as a drug-dealing doctor known to some patients as “the candy man … because they knew he was the man to go to for drugs.” Two female patients treated at a local emergency room told hospital staff that they and their friends got drugs from Diaz in exchange for sexual favors. Doctors at a local hospital considered Diaz such a menace that they kept a spreadsheet documenting his patients’ emergency room visits. Dr. Chris Lambert said he and colleagues watched in frustration for years as one Diaz patient after another turned up in his emergency room. ”How many deceased patients and bereaved relatives will it take before somebody says no more?”
Abuse Of Prescription Painkillers Is A Plague In America Today
ONE80CENTER utterly agrees with what was expressed by Dr. Lambert because we experience the same horror with so many of our clients and potential clients on a regular basis. It is hard to even estimate how many client we have seen enter treatment for addiction to prescription painkillers. The vast majority of those patients were first prescribed those prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet by their own doctors. The Clinical Team and Expert Staff of ONE80CENTER wholeheartedly echo Dr. Lambert’s tragic sentiment: “How many deceased patients and bereaved relatives will it take before somebody says no more?” It is time to put an end to the pill mills!
Mind you, such a sentiment is not only in connection with the criminal abuses of Dr. Diaz, but with the problem of prescription painkillers and substance abuse across the board. Let’s be perfectly clear – the abuse of prescription drugs is a plague that has been ravaging our country for many years, and it is only getting worse. Are you tired of watching friends and family suffer such devastating consequences?
ONE80CENTER commends the Southern California families who made reports to the Medical Board of California about the criminal behavior of Dr. Julio Diaz. It took real courage to take this step and take significant action. After all, if we are not at the forefront of this battle, then we will continue to see the bodies piling up and the overdoses becoming an almost daily occurrence. Enough is enough!
For The First Time Since The US Began Keeping Track, Drug Deaths Outnumber Traffic Fatalities Due To The Prescription Drugs Epidemic
The prescription drug fatality blog has been adapted from an excellent report in the Los Angeles Times by Lisa Girion, Scott Glover and Doug Smith.
According to preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drugs exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing at least 37,485 people nationwide. This change has been propelled by a significant increase in prescription narcotic overdoses. While most major causes of preventable death are declining, drugs are the exception to the rule. The death toll has doubled in the last decade, now claiming a life every 14 minutes. By contrast, traffic accidents have been dropping for decades because of huge investments in auto safety. The clinical experts at ONE80CENTER wish to know when such investments are going to be made in drug awareness education and prevention.
The growing prescription drug problem, which ONE80CENTER experiences with our clients firsthand on a daily basis, should now be characterized as nothing less than an epidemic. This is the first time that drugs have accounted for more fatalities than traffic accidents since the government started tracking drug-induced deaths in 1979. Fueling the increase is the abuse of prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs that are potent, highly addictive and especially dangerous when combined with one another or with other drugs or alcohol.
Among the most commonly abused are OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Percocet. Overdoses from these drugs now add up to far more than both heroin and cocaine combined. It is time for America to realize that the problem is not the drug dealers in the streets, but the prescription bottles in their own medicine cabinets.
The seeds of the problem were planted more than a decade ago by well-meaning efforts by doctors to mitigate suffering. In addition, pharmaceutical companies initiated aggressive sales whenever a new drug came on the market. OxyContin is a perfect example of how such a campaign went terribly wrong. In hindsight, the liberalized prescription of pain drugs could very well have led directly to the problem at hand.
“In some ways, prescription drugs are more dangerous than illicit ones because users don’t have their guard up”, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Opferman, head of a county task force on prescription drug-related crimes. “People feel they are safer with prescription drugs because you get them from a pharmacy and they are prescribed by a doctor. Younger people believe they are safer because they see their parents taking them. It doesn’t have the same stigma as using street narcotics.”
Public health policies that have improved traffic safety over the years through the use of seat belts, air bags and other measures. Such progress stands in stark contrast to the nation’s record on prescription drugs. Even though more people are driving more miles, traffic fatalities have dropped by more than a third since the early 1970s to 36,284 in 2009. The Centers for Disease Control collects data on all causes of death each year and analyzes them to identify health problems. Drug-induced deaths are mostly accidental overdoses, but also include suicides.
Drug fatalities more than doubled among teens and young adults between 2000 and 2008, years for which more detailed data are available. Deaths more than tripled among people aged 50 to 69. In terms of sheer numbers, the death toll is highest among people in their 40s. Overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers, including OxyContin and Vicodin, and anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium and Xanax more than tripled between 2000 and 2008.
The rise in deaths corresponds with doctors prescribing more painkillers and anti-anxiety medications. The number of prescriptions for the strongest pain pills filled at California pharmacies, for instance, increased more than 43% since 2007 and the doses grew by nearly 50%, according to data collected by the state. Those prescriptions provide relief to pain sufferers but also fuel a thriving black market. Prescription drugs are traded on Internet chat rooms that buzz with offers of “vikes,” “percs” and “oxys” for $10 to $80 a pill. An addiction to prescription drugs can be expensive; a heavy OxyContin habit can run twice as much as a heroin addiction, authorities say.
The most commonly abused prescription drug, hydrocodone, also is the most widely prescribed drug in America, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Better known as Vicodin, the pain reliever is prescribed more often than the top cholesterol drug and the top antibiotic. “We have an insatiable appetite for this drug — insatiable,” Joseph T. Rannazzisi, a top DEA administrator, told a group of pharmacists at a regulatory meeting in Sacramento.
In April, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced initiatives aimed at preventing prescription drug abuse. The plans include a series of drug take-back days, modeled after similar programs involving weapons. Another initiative would develop voluntary courses to train physicians on how to safely prescribe pain drugs, a curriculum that is not widely taught in medical schools. Why it is not taught in medical schools is a baffling question.
What is frustrating is that initial attempts to reverse the trend in drug deaths — such as state-run prescription drug-monitoring programs aimed at “doctor-shopping” addicts — do not appear to be working. “What’s really scary is we don’t know a lot about how to reduce prescription deaths,” said Amy S.B. Bohnert, a researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School. As Bohnert explains: “It’s a wonderful medical advancement that we can treat pain, but we haven’t figured out the safety belt yet.” At ONE80CENTER, we recognize the growing problem and fully back all attempts to stop this modern plague that is striking at the heart of our country.