DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa.– Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced felony charges against a Scranton doctor for over-prescribing 17,504 Oxycodone pills to two patients over a two-year period.
Dr. Louis Adamo, 60, of Whitetail Run, Moscow, prescribed 9,540 Oxycodone tablets to Brett Nachand between August 2014 and March 2016. Dr. Adamo also prescribed 7,964 Oxycodone tablets to Mark Pettinato between January 2015 and March 2016. Dr. Adamo is charged with prescribing outside accepted treatment principles and prescribing to a known drug-dependent person.
“At one point, this doctor was prescribing over 33 pills a day to one man,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “That’s an unconscionable amount of pills – and he broke the law. The vast majority of physicians know the harms and do their duty to control these dangerous narcotics, but some do not, and we’ll investigate and prosecute those who break the law.”
The investigation began in March 2016 when pharmacist Tom DePietro of DePietro’s Pharmacy in Dunmore reported to local police that a large quantity of Oxycodone was being dispensed by Dr. Adamo to Nachand. Dunmore police contacted the Office of Attorney General. Pharmacist DePietro and DePietro’s Pharmacy are not implicated in any wrongdoing, and in fact acted appropriately in reporting to the police the large number of prescriptions by Dr. Amado.
“We applaud DePietro’s Pharmacy for doing the right thing and reporting to police the large quantity of narcotics being prescribed by one doctor to one patient,” Attorney General Shapiro said.
Nachand told investigators he had been a patient of Dr. Adamo for nearly 10 years and that he took four or five Oxycodone pills every four hours. He also admitted to giving away some of the pills to three friends. All but one of the Oxycodone prescriptions Nachand received were written by Dr. Adamo.
Pettinato reported he was receiving prescriptions every two to three weeks, but that Dr. Adamo only saw him for medical exams once every six months or more. These visits consisted of Dr. Adamo taking his blood pressure and vitals.
Investigators learned from Nachand and Pettinato that when their prescriptions were running low they would call Dr. Adamo’s office, Medical Associates of NEPA, on North Keyser Avenue in Scranton, and leave a message stating they needed a new prescription for Oxycodone. An office employee would call them back when the prescription was ready. Nachand and Pettinato would pick up the prescription from the employee at the front counter of the doctor’s office and fill them at local pharmacies.
In March 2016, Office of Attorney General’s agents searched Dr. Adamo’s office and seized medical files for Nachand and Pettinato. As part of the investigation, a physician’s expert review of these files determined that Dr. Adamo’s prescriptions for both patients were “grossly incompetent” and “not in accordance with accepted treatment principles” of the medical community.
The review also identified escalation in pill prescription by Dr. Adamo for the patients as “clearly supporting an abusive pattern of drug use.”
Nachand is also charged in the case. Nachand is charged with the acquisition of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge and delivery of a controlled substance for providing prescription pills to Justin Paroby, Kayla Jordan and Pettinato.
Dr. Adamo was arraigned on the charges and bail was set at $100,000 pending a preliminary hearing on November 9th. Nachand’s bail was set at $50,000 and his hearing will also be on Nov. 9th.
Diversion arrests by the Office of Attorney General – charges against medical personnel and others for illegally diverting prescription drugs for improper use – have sharply increased in 2017. Since Attorney General Shapiro was sworn into office in January, diversion arrests have increased by 50 percent over the same time period last year. Diversion agents have charged 150 people this year so far.
“The illegal diversion of prescription drugs is a growing problem across our Commonwealth, and that’s why we’ve increased the resources and personnel of our office dedicated to investigating and prosecuting it wherever we find it,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Diverting prescription drugs for improper uses is the heroin epidemic’s fuel.”
SOURCE: Attorney General’s office