A Pennsylvania doctor has been formally charged for operating a "pill mill" wherein he unlawfully distributed millions of opioids to his patients, causing five overdose deaths. He allegedly prescribed opioids without a medical purpose on multiple occasions.

'Pill Mill'

A doctor from Pennsylvania is facing a 19-count indictment for unlawful distribution of controlled substances, for having two drug-involved premises, and for causing the deaths of five patients because of said unlawful drug distribution. Dr. Raymond Kraynak was taken into custody by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and made his initial appearance for United States Magistrate Judge Schwab.

Reports state that Dr. Kraynak allegedly maintained two facilities in Shamokin and Mt. Carmel in which he prescribed approximately 2.7 million units of the opioids oxycodone, oxycontin, hydrocodone, and fentanyl to over 2,800 patients in the period between January 2016 and July 2017. Further, Dr. Kraynak allegedly prescribed opioids to multiple patients on multiple occasions without any medical purpose, without proper medical examination, without proper assessment of the patient's complaints, and without assessing the patients' risk for abuse.

He is also being charged as a result of the opioid overdose deaths of five of his patients between the years of 2013 and 2015. As a result, the government is seeking the closure of his facilities, forfeiture of his medical license, and $500,000.

Opioid Epidemic

The indictment against Dr. Kraynak is the latest case of medical practitioners being held accountable for the widespread opioid epidemic. According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there have been 120 opioid-related charges filed since the beginning of the year.

"This is the deadliest drug crisis in our history, and it's unconscionable that some doctors and medical professionals would violate their oaths to exploit it for cash," said Attorney General Sessions, also stating that the U.S. Department of Justice will remain relentless in fighting street dealers, medical practitioners, and even companies that have helped fuel the crisis.

Examples of these charges include cities and states suing pharmaceutical companies that allegedly contributed to the epidemic. For instance, Kentucky has taken legal action against Endo, and so has Montana against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue. The City of Newark has also taken legal action against multiple opioid manufacturers for false and deceptive advertising.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in 2015 alone, 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids, which resulted in 2 million people having opioid misuse disorder and 15,281 overdose deaths. What's more, in the same year, 828,000 people used heroin, with 135,000 of them using the drug for the first time.

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