For four years, from January 2013 until March 2017, doctors at Riverside Pain Management reportedly dispensed opioids in such quantities that the state of Illinois eventually yanked the medical licenses of all of the doctors who worked there.
You’d have thought that the clinic, which also called Melrose Park and River Grove home during its long and controversial history, would have been chloroformed back in 2011 when the state revoked the medical license of its owner, Dr. Joseph Giacchino.
But, Giacchino found a way to keep the clinic open. He would serve as the clinic’s “administrator” while hiring other doctors to do the examining and prescribing.
A complaint filed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in November 2016, seeking to suspend the license of the clinic’s primary prescriber, Dr. Paul C. Madison, included some jaw-dropping details including the following:
In less than two years, Madison had prescribed 1.6 million doses of opioids – 70 percent of which were highly addictive Schedule II controlled substances, like Hydrocodone (988,000 dosage units alone) and Oxycodone. He also prescribed tens of thousands of dosage units of Schedule IV controlled substances, highly addictive drugs like Soma and Clonazepam, during that time period.
Madison had authorized more than 30,000 dosage units of controlled substances to patients in nearly a dozen states, including ones who lived as far away as California and Florida.
That examinations prior to prescribing opioids were perfunctory
That despite not having authorization to treat patients, Giacchino had sexual contact with at least one patient at the Riverside clinic and that Madison knew it.
That Madison was the state of Illinois’ highest-volume prescriber of a fentanyl spray called Subsys, which was created expressly to treat pain experienced by cancer patients. Madison was responsible for about 60 percent of all Subsys prescriptions in Illinois, and 95 percent of those receiving the prescriptions did not have cancer.
Since 2012, Madison has been under criminal indictment for insurance fraud and he’s also an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal criminal lawsuit against executives of the firm responsible for marketing Subsys.
So, it was gratifying last week when a new lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court against opioid manufacturers and distributors also specifically zeroed in on the activities of the doctors at Riverside Pain Management, seeking for them to be held personally liable for their role in an opioid abuse epidemic that has swept the nation in the past decade.
It’s far past time for those doctors to face a reckoning beyond losing their licenses and having to pay fines.
We’re glad that the clinic no longer calls Riverside – or any place else for that matter – home. But we’re equally glad that the clinic and its doctors weren’t simply able to fade into the background with the closure of the operation.