Typically, it's a sad day when a local business closes in a small downtown district like Riverside's. But, we can't say we're sorry to see a pain clinic that's doled out millions of opioid medications from a nondescript storefront on East Burlington Street for the past four years pack up and move out.
Reached by the Landmark last week, a receptionist at the clinic – it's always a little odd when someone picks up the phone and simply says "medical office," like they don't want to admit to anything – told a reporter that, indeed, the clinic was closing but that she wasn't authorized to say anything else.
It's not hard to understand why. If you look through documents filed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the Illinois Attorney General and federal prosecutors in Massachusetts last year, you can't help but be amazed at what's alleged to have gone on inside that office.
State officials and federal prosecutors, using statements from confidential informants being used by DEA investigators, described a medical practice that doled out high-powered opioids in vast quantities.
Over the course of 2015 and 2016, according to the state's petition for suspension of Dr. Paul C. Madison's medical license last November, Madison had prescribed about 1.6 million dosage units of controlled substances to patients in 11 states.
Those prescriptions included many for a powerful fentanyl spray that was designed to treat breakthrough cancer pain, but was prescribed by Madison to non-cancer patients, according to the suspension petition.
Madison's practice of prescribing the fentanyl spray landed him, as an unindicted co-conspirator, in a federal lawsuit against executives of the company marketing that product. The company allegedly enticed doctors in to prescribing the drug by paying them thousands of dollars to take part in sham speaking events.
On top of all that, Madison since 2012 has been under federal indictment for insurance fraud.
Madison was one of two doctors at the clinic who had their medical licenses pulled late last year by the state. The other, Dr. William J. McMahon has his license first suspended, then changed to permanently inactive last year.
The "office manager" of the clinic, Dr. Joseph Giacchino, had his license revoked by the state for improperly prescribing controlled substances and a little drugs-for-sex extracurricular activity thrown in. Giacchino continued to have sexual contact with at least one female patient at the Riverside clinic, according to the state petition to suspend Madison's license, and that Madison knew about it.
That the clinic has left Riverside is great news. But it's not clear whether it's operating somewhere else – the receptionist who talked to a Landmark reporter wouldn't say.
The state of Illinois and federal investigators should keep the heat on Giacchino, Madison, et al. While clinics like this are bad for Riverside, they're bad for anywhere.
All we can say of Riverside Pain Management at this point is: good riddance.