Wasilla Doctor Sentenced for Illegal Prescriptions that Resulted in Five Deaths
ANCHORAGE – A Wasilla, Alaska, medical doctor was sentenced in federal court by Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason to 34 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and fined $25,000 for illegally dispensing and distributing controlled substances to patients in his medical practice at the Camelot Family Health Clinic.
According to court documents, David Chisholm, 64, illegally prescribed his patients thousands of pills of highly addictive controlled substances, including oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, morphine, tramadol, fentanyl, hydromorphone and buprenorphine. An extensive undercover investigation revealed that Chisholm routinely distributed the controlled substances without administering a medical exam and without a legitimate medical purpose. He also did not develop pain management plans for his patients and his record keeping was virtually non-existent.
Between January 2014 and October 2019, Chisholm wrote 20,524 prescriptions to approximately 350 patients amounting to nearly 2 million total dosage units of various opioids including more than 7,500 prescriptions for oxycodone, 3,600 prescriptions for methadone and 1,300 prescriptions for hydrocodone. Chisholm frequently wrote numerous prescriptions to patients under multiple variations of their names, allowing them to continue to refill their drugs without raising red flags from Medicare or their private insurance. At one point Chisholm’s practices became so egregious that Walmart refused to continue filling prescriptions he had written. In response, he instructed his staff to tell patients to go to other pharmacies. Chisholm often prescribed combinations of medications, including concurrent opioids, benzodiazepines, sedatives and carisoprodol. These combinations increased the likelihood of drug abuse and overdose among his patients. As part of the plea agreement, Chisholm acknowledged that his prescriptions were a significant contributing factor in the overdose deaths of five of his patients between 2016 and 2018.
“Dr. Chisholm’s reckless conduct reflects a shocking disregard for the welfare of his patients. Nothing can excuse his opioid prescribing practices in light of what is today universally understood about the risks of opioid use disorder and opioid overdose,” said U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. of the District of Alaska. “The United States Attorney’s Office, DEA, and FBI – together with our state and local partners – will investigate and prosecute any medical professional who jeopardizes the health and safety of patients with opioids and other addictive substances.”
“Dr. Chisholm intentionally distributed highly addictive and potentially lethal dosages and quantities of opioids to his patients,” said Frank A. Tarentino III, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Seattle Field Division. “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that the DEA and law enforcement partners will fight the opioid epidemic through coordinated enforcement operations targeting medical professionals like Dr. Chisholm who betray their profession and use their prescription pads to further addiction and add fuel to the opioid epidemic.”
Chisholm pleaded guilty in June 2021 and is required to surrender his Alaska State medical license.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Wasilla Police and the Alaska State Board of Pharmacy investigated this case as part of the Alaska Health Care Fraud Task Force (AHCFTF), a partnership of local, state, federal, and private agencies focused on the investigation of health care fraud, waste, and abuse in Alaska or affecting Alaskan interests. For more information and how to report health care fraud, please visit the FBI’s AHCFTF website: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/anchorage/alaska-health-care-fraud-task-force
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Schroeder prosecuted the case.