CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A Pennsylvania doctor was sentenced to six months in federal prison Thursday for his role in a pain pill prescription scheme.
Dr. Brian Gullett, who worked with the HOPE (Hitech Opioid Pharmachovigilance Expertise) Clinic, also was fined $5,000 and surrendered his medical license and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) certificate of registration.
Gullett, 46, of Clarksville, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty last September to a felony count of aiding and abetting obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
The scheme involved prescribing oxycodone and other controlled substances that weren’t for legitimate medical purposes from 2010 to 2015. Some prescriptions provided up to seven pills per day, and several HOPE locations averaged 65 or more daily customers during a 10-hour workday with only one practitioner working, prosecutors said.
Gullett admitted he signed multiple oxycodone prescriptions for 120 pills of 30 milligrams each and 30 pills of 15 milligrams each for someone at the Charleston location in March 2013 even though that person’s medical chart did not support the prescriptions, the patient had failed multiple drug screenings, was addicted to pain medication, purchased pills on the street and sold his pills from the clinic to others, prosecutors said. Gullett admitted he didn’t discuss with the customer the possibility of addiction or the need for addiction treatment.
Gullett was indicted in 2018 along with the owners, managers and other physicians associated with the HOPE Clinic and a group that managed HOPE’s daily operations. HOPE Clinic had offices in Beckley, Beaver, and Charleston, West Virginia, and in Wytheville, Virginia. Five other physicians have pleaded guilty. The remaining defendants are awaiting trial.
“The criminal conduct in this case exploited and worsened an already devastating opioid crisis,” Will Thompson, the U.S. attorney for West Virginia’s southern district, said in a statement.
West Virginia has by far the nation’s highest drug overdose death rate, at 90.0 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, compared to 56.6 in Tennessee, the next highest.