Milwaukee’s Pill Mill
Pill mills are a problem in Wisconsin. Here is just one example – on June 24th of this year the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online reported that a doctor, Steven Kotsonis and office manager, Susan Moyer from a Wauwatosa medical office, were arrested on charges including conspiracy and illegally providing drugs to patients. The indictment stems from an investigation into whether they illegally provided drugs to patients from the Compassionate Care Clinic on W. Capitol Drive in Wauwatosa in 2012 and 2013. Moyer, who described herself as the “Oxyczar” and Kotsonis face 20 years in prison if convicted on all of the counts they face. Federal sentencing guidelines make that very doubtful, they will likely serve a fraction of that, IF they are even convicted.
Moyer accepted cash for prescriptions for large amounts of prescription narcotics. Kotsonis signed the prescriptions, often times without even seeing the patient. This is an example of a pill mill, in our own backyard.
What is a pill mill exactly? Basically, a pill mill is a business in which a doctor, clinic and/or pharmacy prescribes and/or dispenses narcotics without a legitimate medical purpose. They can be difficult to detect, but some warning sign are…
- No physical exams are performed
- Pain is only treated with pills
- Patients congregating in the parking lot
- Patients are in and out of the doctor’s office in minutes
- Excessive traffic to and from the doctor’s office
- Complaints from pharmacists about doctor’s practices
- Complaints from neighboring business owners about clientele
- Cash is the only payment accepted
- Large cash deposits at the bank
The local and federal governments are responsible for finding these types of criminals, because that’s what they are-greedy criminals, and taking care to stop them. But, it takes a long time to complete these investigations. For Kotsonis and Moyer, the offences resulting in the charges they now face and were arrested for 2 months ago, were committed in 2012 and 2013. The clinic under fire was closed, but nothing has happened to “Dr.” Kotsonis’s license. There is no record of any investigation or disciplinary action on his license by the state of Wisconsin. In fact, he is practicing again through the Stevanovic Family Clinic in Milwaukee, introduced simply as “Dr. Steven”. How is it possible that he can continue unabated after what he was responsible for? At a minimum, we should be able to see that he was investigated, that he has to account for what he is now doing, that he can’t write prescriptions, or at least that they are monitored. But there is none of that, why?
When I was arrested and charged I was fired, and legitimately so. My license was suspended and to get it back I had to do many things to prove I had changed my behavior. This seemed reasonable to me, I had stolen and used drugs and I needed to show that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. My punishment fit my crime. But for these two goofballs, there seems to be no consequence over the last few years. If there has been, it is not documented anywhere that I can find. This does not seem right, we need to change the way we address these types of crimes, these pill mills.
The doctor in this Healthline article, Dr. Tseng, ran a pill mill that resulted in the death of college student who was just a few months shy of graduating. He and his friends got prescriptions for Oxy and Xanax from Tseng and mixed them with alcohol. Tseng was charged in his death, the charge was second-degree murder, she was convicted and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. She’s the first doctor in this country to be charged and convicted in a case stemming from running a pill mill. Even though she had been notified that one of her patients had died of an overdose from the drugs she prescribed, she did not change her prescribing habits…no remorse. No remorse that is until she found herself facing 30 years to life in prison. I hope that other people running pill mills hear of her story and change their ways. Places such as these are escalating the opioid addiction problem, making it far too easy to get these dangerous drugs. They must be stopped.
In light of the ever increasing problem of addiction, the federal government is looking more closely at questionable practices. The above article gives many examples of clinics, doctors and pharmacists that have been caught and indicted. What happens then is up to the courts, and I hope the licensing boards remove the rights of these people to prescribe narcotics permanently. Unless there are severe consequences the greed will overpower the fear of being caught and the pill mills will continue.
If you see evidence of a pill mill in your area, tell someone. Since they are federally regulated, I suggest starting there. We have to work together to make a difference. We have to work together to make our neighborhoods safe from these places and their clientele. We cannot let them continue, we just can’t.