FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 24, 2012
FORMER MINGO COUNTY DOCTOR PLEADS GUILTY IN PAINKILLER PRESCRIPTION CONSPIRACY
Doctor Wrote Undated Prescriptions for Her Staff to Distribute for Cash; Out-Prescribed Several W.Va. Hospitals from 2003 through 2010
CHARLESTON, W.Va. –A former Mingo County doctor pleaded guilty today in federal court to conspiracy to misuse a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number. Diane E. Shafer, M.D., 60, admitted she was responsible for providing painkiller prescriptions to patients she did not examine, but who came to her Williamson, W.Va. office and paid a cash fee. Shafer acknowledged she left signed, undated prescriptions for controlled substances at her office so her staff could distribute them in exchange for cash when Shafer was away. The prescriptions were provided without Shafer’s seeing the patients or determining they had any medical need for the drugs prescribed, which included the painkiller hydrocodone and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
Records indicate between 2003 and early 2010, Shafer wrote over 118,000 prescriptions for controlled substances. Though she was a solo practitioner, Shafer, by herself, wrote more prescriptions for controlled substances than several West Virginia hospitals did during that period.
“It’s disgraceful when a physician abuses his or her position of trust to engage in conduct that ultimately destroys families and communities,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. “I have zero tolerance for doctors or pharmacists who use their prescription power to victimize the vulnerable. I’m going to continue investigating and prosecuting them as aggressively as I know how, and we’re going to keep making progress in the battle against prescription drug abuse.”
Shafer faces up to four years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on August 24, 2012 by United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.
This case was prosecuted as part of an ongoing effort led by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia to combat the illicit sale and misuse of prescription drugs. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, remains committed to aggressively pursuing and shutting down illegal pill trafficking, eliminating open air drug markets, and curtailing the spread of opiate painkillers in communities across the Southern District.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the DEA, and the West Virginia State Police conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney John Frail is in charge of the prosecution.