Prominent Detroit doctor accused of $500 million opioid ring

Opioid addiction continues to plague our communities, damaging families and reportedly taking the lives of more than 100 Americans every day. The persistent overprescription of opioids has led to countless victims that suffer unnecessary and avoidable addiction.

Despite the horrific opioid crisis that state and federal agencies are determined to fight, some pharmaceutical companies and doctors have joined the ranks of street dealers to profit off of human suffering. A disheartening recent news report indicates that six Metro Detroit physicians have been charged with operating a $500 million opioid ring.

A sterling reputation hid unethical behavior

The primary doctor accused of leading the drug scheme is Bloomfield Hills surgeon Dr. Rajendra Bothra. The 77-year-old owns The Pain Center USA facilities located in Warren and Eastpointe. He also owns Interventional Pain Center in Warren as well.

Dr. Bothra has been considered a reputable medical practitioner in the area for approximately 30 years. His accomplishments include being named co-chair of the Asian-American Coalition for the U.S. during the 1988 presidential election. His philanthropic work earned him India's Padma Shri award in 1999 for assisting impoverished people and improving HIV/AIDS awareness. What seems ironic considering the recent indictment is that he was also honored for raising awareness about drug, alcohol and tobacco addiction. However, the recently unsealed indictment in U.S. District Court paints a picture of predatory behavior, greed, and human tragedy.

"The damage that opioid distribution has done to our community and to the United States as a whole has been devastating," U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider reportedly said. "Healthcare professionals who prey on patients who are addicted to opioids in order to line their pockets is particularly egregious. We will continue to prosecute such individuals who choose to violate federal law and their ethical oaths."

Half a billion profits through taking advantage of addicted patients

The doctor and five accomplices are being accused of orchestrating Medicare and Medicaid fraud of close to $500 million. That figure is based on them illegally doling out upwards of 13 million doses of addictive prescription opioids. The federal indictment alleges that Bothra and his co-conspirators pressured patients to undergo unnecessary painful procedures that would prompt them to take powerful opioids. 

The highly addictive pain medications prescribed include Percocet, Oxycontin, Opana, and Vicodin among others. The charges cover a practice that allegedly victimized patients from 2013 through 2018.

The federal indictment also charges Dr. Eric Backos of Bloomfield Hills, Dr. Ganiu Edu of Southfield, Dr. David Lewis of Detroit, Dr. Christopher Russo of Birmingham, and Dr. Ronald Kufner of Ada in the drug scheme.

It's imperative that people suffering from injuries and illness get second opinions about their condition and be vigilant to avoid the use of prescription opioids at all cost. As federal and state authorities continue to investigate prescription drug abuses, evidence continues to surface that good, hard-working families are being harmed by greedy drug companies and medical practitioners.

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