Unregulated – The Pill Pusher in a Doctor’s Coat

Posted on Jan 25, 2017
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At Infinite Recovery, we often highlight stories about the ravaging effects of prescription drug addiction across the country. A recent story by KHOU-TV illustrates the extent of the problem in our own backyard. A physician in McKinney, just a few hundred miles from our facility in Austin, is under investigation for fatally overprescribing painkillers to his patients.

A recent indictment of Dr. Randall Wade links him to the overdose death of one patient and the potential overdose deaths of least seven others. He remains in federal custody and has surrendered his medical license as of late December 2016.

Wade is being investigated based on a complaint following the death of Sheila Thomas of Princeton, TX. According to the news report from KHOU-TV, Wade was not registered to run a pain management clinic, yet he ranked No. 3 out of 10 doctors in surrounding counties in hydrocodone prescriptions and No. 1 in Collin County for 2015. He also tended to prescribe the highest dosage available of hydrocodone, as he did in the case of Thomas.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, it’s highly unusual for a family doctor to be prescribing this many painkillers.

Stereotypically, pill pushing is the domain of shady “pain management” clinics. While pain management clinics exist in Texas, data shows that they are not the primary contributor to the overprescription problem in our state. Of the 300 top controlled substance prescribers in Texas, the majority were not affiliated with pain management clinics. Instead, individual doctors are the ones prescribing heavy doses of addictive pills. These doctors were more likely to prescribe the “Houston Cocktail” – hydrocodone, Xanax, and muscle relaxers.

Despite the obviousness of this problem, one reason it remains an issue is that the state doesn’t monitor prescriptions, investigating only when there is a complaint.

“Monitoring prescribing habits absent a complaint is foreign to us,” Texas Medical Board president Dr. Michael Arambula said.

The Texas Medical Board oversees 132,000 licensees and has only 31 investigators for the entire state. Currently they are investigating 11 alleged “pill mills.”

Let’s hope that the state chooses to dedicate more resources to fighting this epidemic before more people die.
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