Prosecutors Reveal Links Between Opioid Cases in Small-Town Pharmacies

Feb 19, 2024 at 03:13 pm by Chandelar Williams

Middle Tennessee - Federal prosecutors have uncovered connections between previously unconnected cases involving opioid prescribers, revealing a troubling pattern in two small-town pharmacies in Middle Tennessee. In a recent court filing, prosecutors detailed how cases against multiple medical professionals are linked through Dale Hollow Pharmacy and Xpress Pharmacy, where millions of pills were dispensed for prescriptions deemed questionable.
Patients reportedly traveled long distances, some up to three hours, to obtain prescriptions from medical professionals across Middle Tennessee, specifically targeting the small town of Celina. Despite its small population of about 2,000 residents and limited commercial resources, Celina became a hotspot for opioid distribution due to the activities of these pharmacies.
Among the medical professionals linked to these pharmacies are Gilbert Ghearing of Celina, convicted posthumously of prescribing controlled substances without legitimate medical purpose and health care fraud. Bowdoin Smith of Carthage, Hau La of Absolute Medical Care in Smyrna, Samson Orusa of Clarksville, and Willard West of Lebanon have also been convicted of unlawful distribution of controlled substances.
Additionally, Hemal Mehta, a Brentwood physician, and Heather Marks, a Murfreesboro nurse practitioner, face charges related to conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances. Their alleged involvement in promoting the sale of Subutex—a drug used to treat opioid addiction—underscores the extent of opioid-related crimes in the region.
These revelations highlight the urgent need for comprehensive measures to combat opioid abuse and hold accountable those responsible for contributing to it. The interconnected nature of these cases underscores the complexity of addressing opioid misuse and the importance of collaborative efforts among law enforcement agencies to address this public health crisis.
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