Are Pill Mill Docs Going Gangsta?
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Are Pill Mill Docs Going Gangsta?


When I was a kid in the 70’s (just as my drinking and drugging career was taking off), drug dealers were often referred to as “pushers” on cop shows and by concerned authority figures like parents, teachers and guidance counselors. The inference was that they were “pushing” drugs on innocent kids to get us “hooked” so that they could get rich. Never mind that we were tired of sniffing glue and hanging around package stores waiting for some wino to buy us Boone’s Farm Apple Wine or Schlitz beer and were thrilled to get our hands on Quaaludes and Black Beauties; drug dealers were trying to get us hooked on drugs and all “responsible” people knew it!

The New Pushers

Pushers in movies and TV shows of the day were always portrayed as Superfly-style pimps or Manson Family-esque hippies or bikers, and they were decidedly evil figures. But those stereotypes have since faded, and the new pusher is now wearing a lab coat instead of a tie-dye shirt or pimp outfit, as pain clinics take the place of shooting galleries. But one thing has not changed, and that is that the new pushers are getting very fucking rich. Yet these modern-day pushers are doing it legally—at least until recently. Federal and local officials are now shutting down the pill mills known as “pain clinics” and it’s now the doctors instead of hippies, bikers and pimps facing (and doing) hard time.

Why Do a Rectal Exam When You Can Get Paid for Writing ‘Scripts?

The latest story of doctor-as-drug dealer sounds an awful lot like a 70’s or 80’s drug syndicate movie, complete with the new pushers bringing bad elements to the neighborhood. It all came to an end in early December when federal agents and the local police raided the Manhattan “pain clinic” of 66-year old Dr. Moshe B. Mirilashvili (as well as some of his cohort’s offices) and charged them with illegally distributing oxycodone. In two years, this particular drug ring had written prescriptions for nearly 1.2 million oxycodone tablets with a resale street value of at least $36 million. Mirilashvili didn’t accept insurance for his services, instead charging patients $200 a pop for a prescription—typically ninety 30 mg Percocets, commonly known as Perc 30’s—with little or no examination.

Doctah Gangsta

In a press release, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stopped short of using the word “scumbag” to describe Mirilishvili but the tone was clear: “As alleged, Moshe Mirilishvili violated the oath of his profession and flouted the law to write more than 13,000 medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone,” Bharara said. “He and his co-defendants, motivated by greed, allegedly conspired to enrich themselves by flooding the illicit market for this highly addictive and dangerous drug.”

DEA Special Agent-in-Charge James C. Hunt went a little further, painting the picture of doctor-as-gangsta with this telling quote: “As alleged, these defendants are drug dealers playing doctor. They use nicknames, roles and an organizational hierarchy that mimics street drug trafficking crews.” (I wish they had included some of the nicknames in the police report, because I couldn’t even imagine what a 66-year-old Russian physician would adopt for his “street name”—Kom Rad Playah?)

Back To The Hippies And Pimps?

Neighbors of the clinic report that as soon as the place opened, the neighborhood went down the tubes. They would find crack pipes on the ground, and each morning 15-20 “shifty”-looking guys would show up to get prescriptions, which they would then cash in and turn over to drug crew chiefs, according to reports. The doctor himself got robbed at gunpoint one day, so he apparently hired armed guards for his waiting room (just like Dr. Scarface would!) Following the raid, Mirilashvili was allowed to continue his practice, but as part of his bail arrangement, he is no longer allowed to prescribe opiates.

Does that perhaps mean that Dr. Superfly may be opening a Manhattan office soon?

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About Author

Johnny Plankton is the pseudonym for a freelance business and comedy writer/editor (and recovering alcoholic) who lives in Boston. He is also a grateful member of America’s largest alcohol recovery “cult” as well as Al-Anon.