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    Inside the $100 Million Opioids Ring

    How physicians made millions and fed the opioid epidemic.

    Two physicians, a former New York assemblyman, and others were part of a ring that successfully funneled $100 million worth of prescription opioids to the black market until they were busted last week.

    The New York division of the DEA and other New York government agencies indicted 13 health-care professionals and others on numerous charges, including illegally selling painkiller prescriptions, defrauding Medicaid and Medicare, and money laundering.

    Physicians Lazar Feygin of Staten Island, NY, and Paul McClung of Valley Stream, NY, along with office managers Konstantin Zeva, Rachel Smolitsky, Vyacheslav Maksakov, and Pavel Krasnou, fraudulently billed Medicaid and Medicare for millions of dollars in unnecessary medical tests, according to a statement from the DEA.

    Related article: The Trump Administration Gets Tough on Opioids

    The DEA said that, beginning in 2012, Feygin hired a series of doctors, physicians’ assistants, and nurse practitioners to allegedly prescribe quantities of unneeded oxycodone to large numbers of patients and order unnecessary medical procedures. Some medical practitioners employed by the clinics were pressured to write the prescriptions, according to DEA.

    A small group of employees, including McClung and physician’s assistant Juan Cabezas, later broke off from Feygin’s practice in 2013 and formed PM Medical P.C. While PM Medical operated independently from Feygin, medical practitioners and staff engaged in the same pattern of criminal activity.

    Former New York State Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny allegedly aided in the scheme by deleting alcohol-positive urinalysis records at a medical lab he was affiliated with to allow Feygin's patients to continue to receive painkiller prescriptions, according to DEA.

    A group of “doctor shoppers,” or individuals who sought to illegally obtain prescribed controlled substances, frequented two Brooklyn clinics owned by Feygin.

    Related article: An Opioid Story Earns a Pulitzer

    Patients received only cursory medical examinations, or none at all, and contraindications for opioid drugs were systematically ignored. The clinics continued to provide oxycodone prescriptions to patients despite evidence that they were likely selling pills or abusing other narcotics.

    Feygin and other indicted staff members of his clinics were allegedly responsible for prescribing more than 3.7 million oxycodone pills between early 2012 and early 2017, and ordering procedures that generated more than $16 million in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid between 2013 and this year.

    Indicted practitioners prescribed more than 2.6 million pills between mid-2013 and early 2017, and ordered reimbursed procedures generating more than $8 million in revenue, according to DEA.

    “At the height of the conspiracies in 2016, the three clinics conducted a total of more than 1,600 office visits per month,” DEA said.

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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