Los Angeles-In an ongoing crackdown on prescription-drug fraud and abuse, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that his office is investigating an “illegal and massive prescription-drug ring” linked to the death of Corey Haim.
An unauthorized prescription under the former child star’s name was found during an ongoing investigation of fraudulent prescription-drug pads ordered from a vendor in San Diego.
“Corey Haim’s death is yet another tragedy linked to the growing problem of prescription-drug abuse,” Attorney General Brown said. “This problem is increasingly linked to criminal organizations, like the illegal and massive prescription-drug ring under investigation. It’s a serious public health problem.”
The prescription-drug ring under investigation operates by ordering prescription-drug pads from authorized vendors using stolen doctor identities. The pads are then either sold on the street to prescription-drug addicts or to individuals who are paid to fill the prescription and then sell the drugs on the underground market. The doctor whose name is printed on the form is usually unaware that his or her identity has been stolen for this purpose.
The investigation has thus far uncovered more than 4,500 to 5,000 fraudulent prescriptions linked to the fraud ring in Southern California.
The San Diego Regional Pharmaceutical Narcotic Enforcement Team (RxNET) is conducting the investigation. RxNET is a cooperative effort of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; Department of Health Care Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. RxNET also works in conjunction with other state, federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Prescription-drug abuse is a growing problem. Brown’s office has investigated and filed charges in more than 200 cases-against both physicians who have abused their trust and patients who go from doctor to doctor in search of drugs.
In February 2009, Brown filed charges against Dr. Lisa Barden of Rancho Cucamonga, who stole the identities of her patients to obtain highly addictive painkillers. The San Bernardino County District Attorney is prosecuting the case.
In April 2009, Brown’s office arrested five college-age individuals who conspired to fraudulently obtain thousands of prescription drugs. The San Diego County District Attorney is now prosecuting the case.
In addition to costing the state millions of dollars each year, prescription-drug abuse can have serious public safety consequences, as many of the top abusers hold down regular jobs including truck drivers, transit operators and medical practitioners.
California is at the forefront of technology that makes it more difficult for criminals to operate prescription-drug rings. Brown’s office has introduced significant technology upgrades to the state’s prescription-monitoring program, known as CURES, by creating an accessible, online database. The database is a critical tool in assisting law enforcement in investigating these types of crimes.
For more information on the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and California’s prescription-drug monitoring system visit: http://ag.ca.gov/bne/CURES.php