Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Shelley Osterloh ReportingA criminal investigation into a prescription drug ring in Salt Lake City continues to grow, and the State Division of Professional licensing made a decision this afternoon about the doctor who's thought to be at the center of the investigation.
When investigators first busted this organized crime ring selling Oxycontin they thought about 75 people were involved. Two months later, the number has grown to 230 people. Investigators searched the offices of a Salt Lake pain clinic and found evidence of the drug ring and insurance fraud that is now expected to be more than 422-thousand dollars. They also recently searched a Holladay pharmacy that may have been dispensing the drugs.
Those involved are not your typical drug addicts, but doctors, lawyers and students.
Joe Christensen, Dir. Utah Dept. of Insurance Fraud: "The majority of the people are middle class, young 20-year olds, people who are covered by their parents health insurance. They've been recruited to run these prescriptions through their health insurance and then they sell the drugs back to the distributors they distribute, the drugs out on the street.”
80 mg Oxycontin pills cost an insurance company about 500 dollars, but are sold on the street for 5 or 6-thousand dollars. The pharmaceutical manufacturer alerted investigators that one Salt Lake doctor had prescribed 74-thousand tablets in the same time other pain clinics had prescribed about 3 thousand.
Late this afternoon, the Division of Licensing said it would take away Dr. Alexander Theodore's license to prescribe drugs, but he could continue to practice medicine. But even that may be temporary.
Dr. Theodore has criminal charges pending against him and investigators say they are continuing to uncover more evidence of insurance fraud and drug distribution of a controlled substance.