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Two East Tennessee Doctors Charged in Federal Opioid Overprescription Probe

Two doctors in East Tennessee have been charged as part of a U.S. Department of Justice probe into the overprescription of opioids.

Dr. Frank McNiel of Knoxville and Dr. Samuel Mcgaha of Sevierville were among 13 individuals, including 11 physicians, to be charged Tuesday following an investigation by the Appalachian Region Prescription Opioid (ARPO) strike force. Both have been charged with one count of unlawful distribution of controlled substances.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, McNiel was charged for his role in prescribing high doses of opioids with no medical legitimacy while failing to perform urine drug screens and obtain any imaging. Mcgaha was charged for his role as a family practitioner in Morristown where he would prescribe opioids and other medications without a legitimate medical purpose.

The ARPO strike force action resulted in charges against 13 individuals across five Appalachian federal districts for alleged offenses relating to the overprescription of controlled substances through “pill mill” clinics.

Of those charged, 12 were charged for their role in unlawfully distributing opioids and other controlled substances and 11 were physicians. The alleged conduct resulted in the distribution of more than 17 million pills.

“The opioid epidemic continues to have deadly consequences for our state,” said Assistant Director Mike Cox of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Medicaid Fraud Control Division. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to target dishonest healthcare professionals who contribute to the problem by illegitimately prescribing opioids and other medications for profit.”

This action follows the first such takedown in April of this year, which involved charges against 60 defendants, including 53 medical professionals, in 11 federal districts, alleging the illegal distribution of more than 23 million pills. The charges brought in April have already resulted in 11 guilty pleas in seven federal districts, including guilty pleas by nine medical professionals, including seven physicians.

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