PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local doctor has been sentenced for prescribing painkillers to patients who didn’t need them.
Oliver Herndon was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison and must repay $700,000 to the insurance companies that covered the fake prescriptions.
He told the judge he takes responsibility for his actions.
Earlier this year, dozens of local pharmacies tipped off officials that he was prescribing large amounts of oxycodone and oxymorphone out of his Peters Township practice.
Prosecutors said one woman working undercover got a prescription by using the name of a deceased doctor as a reference.
Prosecutors say Dr. Herndon distributed oxycodone in potent doses to just about anyone who wanted them – as many as 135 patients a day.
One of those patients was 23-year-old Ira Gray, Jr., who got pain meds from Dr. Herndon after an accident and later died.
His mother followed the case when Dr. Herndon entered a plea in May.
“He went there trying to get some help for his pain and [the] doctor didn’t do any kind of research and like that my son just passed away in his sleep because of the sleep apnea and the oxycontin was too strong for him,” Patricia Bogle, Gray’s mother, said. “He should have never been prescribed something like that.”
Prescription drug tragedies are on the rise.
“We’re in an epidemic,” U.S. Attorney David Hickton said. “Like the rest of the country, we here in western Pennsylvania are facing a prescription drug problem that has reached epidemic proportions.”
“I’ve had people tell me they go to real estate open houses every Sunday to search medicine cabinets and they’re almost always successful,” Dr. Neil Capretto with Gateway Rehab said. “Teenagers will often raid medicine cabinets from their parents.”
Experts say the best way to spot prescription drug abuse is if you think something’s wrong then something is and to get help immediately.
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