Delray doctor charged with trafficking prescription painkiller pills

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - A Delray Beach-based doctor is accused of over-prescribing addictive painkillers to nearly three dozen patients, including a pregnant woman and a 78-year-old stroke victim.

Dr. Barry Michael Schultz, 54, was arrested and charged on Thursday with trafficking in oxycodone and writing illegal prescriptions, according to Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe.

Prosecutors say that between November 2009 and August 2010, Schultz treated patients for pain management by over-prescribing large amounts of oxycodone and other painkillers, sometimes more than 90 pills a day, while requiring them to fill their prescriptions at his own office dispensary and paying cash.

The Schultz Medical Group/Barry Schultz M.D. was not registered with the Florida Department of Health to operate as a pain management clinic, according to investigators.

The pharmacist-owner of a Tru-Valu Drugs store alerted the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office when a patient of Schultz's tried to fill a prescription for a 30-day supply of oxycodone totaling 1,590 pills, according to the investigator's report.

Authorities seized patient records from the Schultz Medical Group on Oct. 15, 2010.

A review of drug-dispensing logs, between March 25 and May 11, 2010, revealed approximately 80,350 oxycodone tablets were prescribed compared to 3,450 pills for other ailments, the report said.

A review of patients' records also showed a pattern of templates that were copied from visit to visit with no change in the patient's health status, or even age, over several years.

Investigators interviewed 10 patients and, other than a routine check of vital signs by his staff, the patients said Schultz never physically examined them or recommended X-rays or MRIs or alternate therapies for their pain.

When investigators asked Schultz why he prescribed so many oxycodone tablets, citing two of his patients, he explained that they were among the 1 percent of the population with a high tolerance for oxycodone so they required larger quantities for pain management.

One patient, identified as "K.H." in the investigative report, claimed to have met a fellow patient who was "very pregnant" and who was getting 1,000 oxycondone pills from Schultz. She then offered to sell some to K.H. for $8 to $10 per pill, according to the report.

A 78-year-old patient, identified as "H.G.," who suffered a stroke and broken hip, was wheelchair-bound and could barely get around with a walker, yet the patient file stated "H.G. had a normal gait."

The elderly patient was prescribed 4,220 oxycodone tablets and 2,100 methadone tablets from Jan. 19 to Aug. 24, 2010, according to the report.

An independent medical expert in pain management, who reviewed the patient records with detectives, stated that "the prescribing habits of Dr. Schultz for patient H.G. are inappropriate, excessive and frankly dangerous" and that "a 78-year-old individual with a history of a stroke would not be an appropriate candidate for methadone."

Of the 12 charges Schultz is facing, six trafficking counts are punishable by up to 30 years in prison per count and six unlawful prescription counts can get a maximum of 15 years each, according to Florida statutes.

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