The Drug Enforcement Administration and other authorities raided pharmacies, pain clinics and other facilities in four states as part of an aggressive crackdown on prescription pain drug abuse, NBC News reports. The busts in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are part of a 15-month operation by the DEA drug diversion unit. Involving 1,000 agents and officers, “Operation Pilluted” is the “single largest pharmaceutical operation in DEA history.” It is focused on the illegal sale and distribution of pain killers, including oxycodone and hydrocodone.
In the last 15 months, 140 people have been arrested, and many as 170 others were arrested yesterday. Suspects included doctors and pharmacists. Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama, himself a physician, described the doctors suspected in the raids as “an embarrassment to the medical profession.” He added, “When they choose to overprescribe narcotics to patients, and they know that these patients may be or are abusing them, then they change from being a physician to really being a drug dealer.” Deaths from prescription-drug overdoses declined in 2012 after a decade-long climb; still, an average of 44 die every day from opioids, including Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet.