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Drug-Dealing Doctor Sentenced for 40 Years for Opioid Prescriptions

Over the course of two years, Dr. Joel Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids. Last week, he was convicted for more than 800 counts of prescribing the drug illegally, causing the death of an innocent woman, and leading what prosecutors referred to as “an interstate drug distribution ring.”

The overprescription of drugs like fentanyl, oxymorphone, oxycodone, and hydromorphone is one basis for the nationwide opioid epidemic. According to the lawsuit against Dr. Smithers, patients traveled hundreds of miles from neighboring states to pick up opioid painkillers with the intent to abuse the drugs or sell them for profit. A representative from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) accused Dr. Smithers of “hid[ing] behind his white doctor’s coat as a large-scale drug dealer.”

In testimony, Dr. Smithers claimed to be “duped” by conniving patients, but records reflect that the doctor did not accept insurance and rather profited off of $700,000 in cash and credit card payments. Dr. Smithers’ office was often open past midnight and was known to have a line of loyal clients waiting to obtain pain medication. Just this May, Dr. Smithers was found guilty of 861 federal drug charges and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Dr. Smithers was ultimately convicted for using his office to illegally distribute controlled substances and possessing these substances with the intent to distribute, among other charges.

Although Smithers faced a life sentence, the local police chief said the following about the court’s decision:

I just hope that this sentence will set an example of what happens to doctors who abuse their authority in prescribing medications for profits. Their actions have contributed to the opioid crisis faced by our country.

Government estimates reflect 2.5 million opioid addictions within the United States, but experts believe the number of addicts could be as high as 10 million. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses.

If you were prescribed opioids by Dr. Joel Smithers or obtained an inappropriate prescription from any healthcare provider, call Somera & Silva, LLP at (561) 981-8881.

Our team of medical malpractice attorneys can help you get the compensation you need to recover from an opioid addiction or heal from an opioid-related loss.

Start today with a free case evaluation.