Doctors faces charges for Oxycontin ’scripts

An Indiana doctor who served as a paid spokesman for the manufacturer of Oxycontin, the powerful pain medication that has become a hot button because of its potential for abuse, has been arrested by federal authorities and charged with illegally prescribing the drug. In addition, the doctor is charged with defrauding Medicaid through the prescriptions.

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in the southern district of Indiana, Randolph W. Lievertz, MD, of Indianapolis, wrote more than $1 million worth of Oxycontin prescriptions in the past two years and submitted them to the state’s Medicaid program for payment. Federal prosecutors allege that many of the drug prescriptions went to a crime ring that sold the tablets on the street, and that some prescriptions were so large that the patient would have had to use 31 pills in every 12-hour period. The manufacturer recommends one pill every 12 hours.

High volume of prescriptions drew attention

Susan W. Brooks, JD, the U.S. attorney in Indianapolis, says the doctor’s high volume of Oxycontin prescriptions drew attention. Lievertz prescribed six times more Oxycontin than the next highest prescriber in the state, she says. The doctor faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years of court supervision.

Oxycontin is made by Purdue Pharma of Stamford, CT. The narcotic is popular as a time-release medication for severe pain, but it also has become popular among drug abusers, who crush the tablets for a heroin-like high.