A Philadelphia Suboxone doctor was arrested last week for illegally selling prescription drugs to both addicts and dealers alike. Dr. Clarence Verdell of Voorhees, NJ and his office manager Rochelle Williams-Morrow of Philadelphia, PA were charged on multiple counts including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, distribution of controlled substances, money laundering, and health insurance fraud.
While Verdell was responsible for treating those with opioid addiction issues, he instead turned his clinic into a Suboxone and Klonopin pill mill. Allegedly selling over $1 million worth of prescription drugs, Verdell wrote an estimated 600,000 Suboxone prescriptions and 762,000 Klonopin prescriptions between 2012 and 2014. Addicts would flock to Verdell’s office, knowing they could get the drugs they needed, and so badly wanted.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Pennsylvania, he did not perform mental health assessments or require his patients to attend drug and alcohol counseling services, something he is legally bond to do in order to prescribe medication. Instead, the doctor simply wrote medications and sold them to both addicts and dealers for a hefty price. Although Suboxone doctors are trained to educate their patients on the importance of drug therapy in conjunction with medication, many physicians fail to do so. This is one major downfall to the entire system of medication-assisted treatment. Rather than being a person to turn to in the time of need, some doctors would rather turn a profit…ultimately transforming into a dealer themselves.
When Verdell’s patients could not afford to pay cash for their medications, he assisted them in obtaining health insurance to cover said prescriptions, by providing false information. Furthermore, Dr. Verdell’s office manager, Rochelle Williams-Morrow, was provided with prescription pads to continue the operation when he was not present. Morrow is not a certified and practicing physician, but nevertheless, wrote prescriptions in his absence; something that is not only illegal, but clearly, very dangerous.
The federal indictment alleges that Dr. Verdell previously worked for Dr. Alan Summers, who has also been arrested for the illegal sale of prescription medication, such as Suboxone and Klonopin. Following in Summers’ footsteps, Verdell opened his own practice in Philadelphia six months later. He would lure his former patients, as well as some of Summers’, to his new practice, by promising larger quantities of prescription drugs for a lower cost; a strategy used by competing drug dealers every day.
United States Attorney Zane David Memeger said in regards to the investigation, “We have a public health crisis in the county involving prescription drug abuse that is exacerbated by doctors like these defendants. Every doctor who abandons his or her ethics to engage in the prescription-for-pay culture is breaking the law.”
If found guilty, Verdell and Williams-Morrow face prison terms, a substantial amount of fines, restitution, special assessments and a term of supervised release. Memeger went on to mention, “Our office will continue to investigate and prosecute those individuals whose unscrupulous and illegal conduct contributes to this deadly epidemic.”
Philadelphia leads the state in drug overdose deaths, with a staggering 45.93% rate. Between 2003 and 2015, 90% of overdoses in the county detected both opioids and benzodiazepines. It’s safe to say with the amount of Suboxone and Klonopin Dr. Verdell was selling, his medications most likely contributed to these numbers. As any and all drugs could have hazardous effects on the human body, combining these two particular substances together is a recipe for disaster. Although Suboxone is only a partial opioid, it is still an opioid nonetheless. Klonopin is also a sedative. When mixing the two together, an individual’s breathing can easily slow, causing respiratory depression, and ultimately, overdose and death.
Contact Clearbrook For Suboxone Addiction
At Clearbrook, we come face-to-face with the drug epidemic on a daily basis. We have felt its devastation and know what it has done to both the drug user and affected family unit. Every day, we hear of another person who has fallen victim to the drug crisis in our state. What’s more, are those that come to us addicted to a medication that was intended to initially help them. Whether it be something such as Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment medication, or Klonopin, a benzodiazepine prescribed for anxiety disorders. What we have found is that many of these medications leave people worse off than where they began; spiraling further into addiction and making it difficult to find their way out.
Nevertheless, we have also had the privilege of watching many of those individuals recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, becoming fully abstinent from ALL mood and mind-altering substances. We have felt and witnessed hope through recovery and the 12-steps. For over 40 years, Clearbrook has been serving residents of Philadelphia, as well as surrounding counties and neighboring states. By providing effective and quality drug and alcohol treatment to the chemically dependent person and educating affected family members, so many have been able to restore their lives and their relationships. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, contact our Admissions Specialists today.