NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Five doctors and a pharmacist are among those facing charges for allegedly distributing millions of oxycodone pills.
“Part of what is driving this opioid epidemic is a prescription epidemic,” said Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for Southern District of New York.
“As alleged in today’s indictment, instead of caring for their patients, these doctors were drug dealers in white coats,” Berman said. “They hid behind their medical licenses to sell addictive, dangerous narcotics.”
“Greed. They did it for cash, for meals and expensive gifts,” Berman said.
One doctor allegedly took cruises, an all-expense paid trip to Puerto Rico, high-end whisky and fancy meals in exchange for prescribing large quantities and high doses of oxycodone, Berman said.
One of those facing charges is Dr. Dante Cubangbang. He operated a pain clinic in Queens and, along with his nurse practitioner, prescribed more than 6 million oxycodone pills since 2012 and made over $5 million in cash, Berman said.
“They are the highest prescribers of oxycodone in the entire state, according to Medicare and Medicaid,” Berman said.
Dr. Carl Anderson only saw patients at his office in the middle of the night, Berman said.
“It was not uncommon for crowds of people to form outside his office at 3 or 4 in the morning, prompting 911 calls from his neighbors,” Berman said.
“We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic of grave proportions,” Berman said. “This opioid epidemic has greatly affected New York City. According to the New York City Department of Health, approximately 1,500 people died of drug overdose in New York City alone in 2017, and the majority of those deaths involved opioids.”
Berman said he found their actions outrageous.
“It’s horrendous. It’s horrendous. As I said, these are people who have taken an oath to help their patients. They should be on the first line of defense to combat this type of opioid abuse, and instead they are part of the problem. So I’m outraged by it.”