A New York doctor has been charged in the deaths of a half-dozen patients who overdosed on opioids prescribed by his pain management clinic, according to a 166-count superseding indictment unsealed Wednesday.
The indictment charges 56-year-old Dr. Eugene Gosy, of Williamsville, near Buffalo, with causing the deaths of six people by prescribing painkillers, namely fentanyl, oxycodone and tapentadol, other than for a legitimate medical purpose. He's accused of multiple counts of conspiring to commit health care fraud and committing health care fraud, and faces 144 counts in connection with the alleged pill-pushing, according to the indictment.
Gosy and his employees at the Gosy Center, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants, allegedly issued more prescriptions for controlled substances on an annual basis than any other prescriber or prescribing entity in New York state, including hospitals. They allegedly prescribed painkillers without conducting physical exams or conducting brief ones, prescribing substances known to cause dependence or exacerbate addictions and doing so despite indications that certain patients were abusing or misusing the drugs.
They also allegedly recommended courses of treatment that caused patients to become so addicted to opioids that some eventually turned to heroin or other street drugs to satisfy their addictions. In some cases, the clinic gave opioid prescriptions to patients Gosy and his staff allegedly knew had overdosed.
He allegedly signed blank prescriptions that others filled out while he was out of town, and patients were allowed to use a telephonic prescription renewal process whereby they'd get prescriptions by people who were not medically trained to provide them, or issued by mid-level providers with inadequate knowledge of both the prescription and the patient background.
Gosy also submitted workers' compensation claims for treatment provided by underlings while he was traveling to such far-flung locations as Moscow, Honolulu, Athens and the Dominican Republic, NBC News reported.
Seven months ago, Gosy was indicted on federal narcotics and fraud charges by prosecutors who said he turned patients into addicts for profit, according to NBC News.
Gosy's attorney, Joel Daniels, did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment on the indictment unsealed Wednesday. Gosy previously denied wrongdoing and described himself as an advocate for people dealing with chronic pain.
In a statement last May on a local radio station, Gosy said he was a victim of "wild character assassination." And Daniels said at the time that all of the prescriptions his client wrote were for "legitimate medical purposes."
Federal investigators strongly disagree.
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The head of the New York division of the Drug Enforcement Administration likened Gosy's clinic to a "modern-day version of 19th century Opium dens," according to NBC News.
"At the height of diverted prescription drug abuse, Dr. Gosy’s clinic prescribed more controlled substances than several major New York Hospitals, and is now being charged with causing the death of six individuals," DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James Hunt said in a statement. "Today’s charges cannot bring back the lives of those who died, but is a message to traffickers and rogue doctors that their actions have irrevocable consequences. The DEA’s highest priority is arresting and dismantling the largest opioid traffickers, Dr. Gosy being one of them.”
Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of Gosy's valuables, including a Porsche and a 56-foot pleasure boat, NBC News reported.