June 13, 2012
"Doctors at his clinics were paid a flat fee for each opioid prescription they wrote—typically, $75 to $100 a pop. To help maximize their efficiency, doctors were given prescription stamps they could use quickly, over and over. It was common for physicians at American Pain to see 100 patients a day, he says. At that rate a doctor would earn roughly $37,500 a week—or $1.95 million a year."

American Pain: The Largest U.S. Pill Mill’s Rise and Fall tells the story of Christopher and Jeffrey George, twin brothers who opened their first “pain clinic” in Fort Lauderdale in 2008 and both of whom are now in jail for racketeering conspiracy. It’s a fascinating, sobering tale of an industry whose denizens pushed the boundaries of the law as far as they’d possibly go, and then pushed them just a little bit further. Of course, their choices then had on impact on many, many other people, not just those looking to get their painkiller fix. As the quote above shows, physicians and doctors were lured into the web by being paid astonishing amounts of money for rubberstamping prescriptions. This, of course, is not ok, and most doctors would have no truck with such a scam. But the fact that so much of this article is almost nonchalant — “of *course* this happened,” is the note sounded by one of the brothers in an interview conducted in prison — shows how important it is to imagine the dark side of any new service right from the get go. You might not want to use a new power for evil, but you can bet your life someone out there will. And on that rather hopeless note…

[Story via Burt Helm]

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