Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Medical mayhem 8

A Pittsburgh-area pain clinic doctor has been charged with illegally prescribing narcotic painkillers to patients with no medical need, including three who died of overdoses.

Dr. Andrzej Zielke, owner of Medical Frontiers in the Richland Mall, was charged by complaint under seal on Wednesday, and agents with the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies raided the clinic and the doctor's house in Hampton Thursday.

The case was unsealed Friday.

According to an affidavit, FBI informants said Dr. Zielke has been prescribing painkillers for addicts, including one identified only as "B.R." who died of an overdose of oxymorphone and other drugs in December 2014. Most of his prescriptions have been filled at a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in Oakmont.

Dr. Zielke advertises his business as a medical practice using a holistic approach to treatment using non-invasive procedures.

But federal agents said former patients indicated the practice was a "pill mill" where patients paid cash for office visits and received prescriptions that they did not need.


The pain clinic tucked into the corner of a low-slung suburban strip mall was an open secret.

Patients would travel hundreds of miles to see Dr. Andrzej Zielke, eager for what authorities described as a steady flow of prescriptions for the kinds of powerful painkillers that ushered the nation into its worst drug crisis in history. 

At least one of Zielke's patients died of an overdose, and prosecutors say others became so dependent on oxycodone and other opioids they would crowd his office, sometimes sleeping in the waiting room. Some peddled their pills near tumble-down storefronts and on blighted street corners in addiction-plagued parts of Allegheny County, where deaths by drug overdose reached record levels last year. 

But Robert Cessar, a longtime federal prosecutor, was unaware of Zielke until Justice Department officials handed him a binder of data that, he said, confirmed what pill-seekers from as far away as Ohio and Virginia already knew. The doctor who offered ozone therapy and herbal pain remedies was also prescribing highly addictive narcotics to patients who didn't need them, according to an indictment charging him with conspiracy and unlawfully distributing controlled substances.
Zielke denied he was overprescribing, telling AP he practiced alternative medicine and many of his patients stopped seeing him when he cut down on pain pills.

His indictment in October was the first by a nationwide group of federal law enforcement officials that, armed with new access to a broader array of prescription drug databases, Medicaid and Medicare figures, coroners' records and other numbers compiled by the Justice Department, aims  to stop fraudulent doctors faster than before.

The department is providing a trove of data to the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which draws together authorities in 12 regions across the country, that shows which doctors are prescribing the most, how far patients will travel to see them and whether any have died within 60 days of receiving one of their prescriptions, among other information.


1 comment:

  1. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, a physician who uses non-pharmaceutical healing not covered by insurance, is attacked for “only accepting cash”. He was also attacked for charging $90 per visit. That is actually proof that Dr. Zielke was actually a good, kind-hearted, compassionate physician. Many clinics charge $250 or more per visit...

    Dr. Zielke provides his patients with information on how to restore the biochemical environment in their bodies, including dietary and lifestyle changes. So he did all the good things that I did, and actually helped people heal from their diseases. It might be the right thing to do, but it isn’t what the area hospitals or the government want. So they work together to eliminate such doctors.

    The government propaganda machine has him referred to in the media as a “pill mill” to obviously tamper with public opinion and prospective jurors. He was arrested October 5, 2017 on charges that he overprescribed pain meds and fraud. There is no fraud here. A doctor who practices healing alternative medicine stays away from insurance so they don’t get charged with fraud. I know because I was charged with fraud because I accepted government insurance even though my alternatives were not charged to insurance. But in their media propaganda, the government tries to paint fraud into the doctor’s practice because it was cash-only.

    The government also plants opiaphobic propaganda in people’s minds, using complaints of former patients. Usually a former patient is a disgruntled patient that has been discharged for breach of agreement, and they will do or say anything to hurt the physician. I don’t believe that the investigation was the result of patient complaints anyway. I think Dr. Zielke was targeted for the usual reasons:

    He is a minority, being Polish.
    He is independent, and there are probably hospital-owned pain management clinics that want his patients
    He uses healing alternatives. The government doesn’t want people healed.

    They also try to make him look bad because he sends his patients to one pharmacy. That is actually recommended standard of care. A list of approved pharmacies provides better follow-up. With the negative treatment pain patients get from chain stores like CVS and Walgreens, the independent pharmacies or small ones like Medicine Shoppe are often chosen by the doctor.