Federal authorities said Wednesday they have charged 60 people, including 31 doctors, for their roles in illegally prescribing and distributing millions of pills containing opioids and other dangerous drugs. US Attorney Benjamin Glassman of Cincinnati described the action as the biggest known takedown yet of drug prescribers. Robert Duncan, US attorney for eastern Kentucky, called the doctors involved "white-coated drug dealers." Authorities said the 60 includes 53 medical professionals tied to some 350,000 prescriptions and 32 million pills, reports the AP. The operation was conducted by the federal Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, launched last year by the Trump administration.
Authorities didn't immediately name those being charged, but among the group is a Tennessee doctor who dubbed himself the "Rock Doc" and is accused of prescribing dangerous combinations of drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone, sometimes in exchange for sex, authorities said. Others include a Kentucky doctor who is accused of writing prescriptions to Facebook friends who came to his home to pick them up, another who allegedly left signed blank prescriptions for staff to fill out and give to patients he hadn't seen, and a Kentucky dentist accused of removing teeth unnecessarily and scheduling unneeded follow-up appointments. Most of those charged came from the five strike force states of Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. (Read more opioids stories.)