San Gabriel Valley Doctor Sentenced to
APR 14 -- (LOS ANGELES) – A physician who operated a clinic in Duarte and dispensed massive quantities of powerful and addictive painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, directly out of his office without examining “patients” who simply paid him cash for pills was sentenced this afternoon to 48 months in federal prison.
Dr. Daniel J. Healy, 53, who until he was arrested in early 2009 resided in Arcadia, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Manuel Real. In addition to the four-year prison term, Judge Real ordered Healy to pay a $150,000 criminal fine. Following his release from prison, Healy will be on supervised release for 10 years, and he is required to perform 500 hours of community service during each of those years.
According to court documents, from January 2005 until his arrest on February 10, 2009, Healy ordered, dispensed and prescribed huge amounts of prescription painkillers to patients he typically did not examine. No single doctor in the nation purchased more hydrocodone tablets than Healy did in 2008. Taking into account the cost of the hydrocodone that Healy bought from the pharmaceutical company and the amount he sold to his customers, prosecutors argued that Healy realized profits of $688,840 just on the sale of hydrocodone tablets in 2008. (Hydrocodone is sold as a generic drug, but is also marketed under brand names such as Vicodin and Norco.)
“Prescription drug abuse continues to threaten the health and safety of our communities," stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy J. Landrum. "DEA and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate doctors who use their professional status to circumvent federal laws and regulations, distributing dangerous drugs without regard to the health of their patients.”
In briefs filed in relation to today’s sentencing, prosecutors described Healy as “nothing more than a drug dealer in a lab coat, who operated a cash-and-carry narcotics store.” Healy was more of a “dealer” than a doctor, and a dealer who made “a huge amount of money,” according to papers filed by prosecutors.
Judge Real agreed with the government’s assessment: “Dr. Healy was in this for the money, I don't think there’s any question about that.”
On July 6, 2009, Healy pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and intentionally distributing the prescription painkiller oxycodone outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. Oxycodone, a Schedule II narcotic typically used for the relief of moderate to severe pain and commonly sold under the brand name OxyContin, is highly addictive and is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs (see: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drugs_concern/oxycodone/summary.htm).
Healy attracted the attention of federal authorities when an informant reported that Healy was dispensing controlled substances in exchange for cash payments, according to court documents. The informant reported that “patients” could obtain any amount of nearly any kind of painkillers they wanted from Healy, and then use the pills themselves or sell them for profit. In many instances, Healy accepted cash payments for manufacturer bottles of narcotics containing as many as 500 pills. According to DEA informants, Healy either did not examine or made only cursory examinations of “patients” who directly received drugs or obtained prescriptions. A criminal complaint filed last year said that Healy was known to inquire whether his “patients” wanted a “party size” or a “family size” bottle of narcotics.
Special Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration found that in 2008 Healy ordered more than 1 million hydrocodone tablets – more than any other individual practitioner in the nation, which includes doctors who worked at large pain management clinics. In contrast, the average pharmacy in the United States ordered 111,226 pills that year, meaning that Healy himself ordered nearly 10 times more hydrocodone in 2008 than the average American pharmacy. In the City of Duarte, Healy ordered nearly three times more hydrocodone during 2008 than the CVS, Wal-Mart, Target and City of Hope Hospital pharmacies combined. Based on Healy’s ordering history and the prices he charged, the DEA estimates that Healy made $688,840 in 2008 on his sales of hydrocodone tablets alone.
A pain specialist physician retained by prosecutors to examine Healy’s conduct concluded: “Of all the physicians that I have reviewed in the past, Dr. Healy has clearly practiced the most egregious and wanton medical misbehavior that I have seen.”
The investigation of Healy was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which received assistance from the Monrovia Police Department and the Medical Board of California.