You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Kentucky

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 29, 2019

Clinton County Doctor Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Illegally Prescribing Opioids

Additionally, he was ordered to pay $400,000 fine and pay cost of incarceration

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Dr. Michael Lee Cummings, 64, of Albany, Kentucky, was sentenced on July 24, 2019, to 30 months of prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a fine of $400,000, by District Court Judge Greg Stivers, First Assistant United States Michael A. Bennett announced today.  Cummings was also ordered to reimburse the Bureau of Prisons for the costs of his incarceration.  

Cummings was originally indicted on April 12, 2017, and on March 19, 2019, he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances outside the course of professional medical practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.

Dr. Cummings ran a family practice in Albany for many years.  A federal investigation began in 2015 after a Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure expert found that Dr. Cummings’s treatment of several patients fell below minimum standards of care, and after the Clinton County Coroner noticed several overdose deaths involving Dr. Cummings’ patients, according to a Sentencing Memo filed before the Court.  The federal investigation revealed that patients drove from as far as Indianapolis to obtain prescriptions from Dr. Cummings. 

According to the Sentencing Memo, the investigation further discovered that every single year from 2009 through 2014, Dr. Cummings was in the top 1% of all Kentucky primary care prescribers for Oxycodone, hydrocodone, and benzodiazepines.  Between 2009 and 2014, Dr. Cummings wrote prescriptions for an average of over 249,000 oxycodone pills, 438,000 hydrocodone pills, and 347,000 benzodiazepine pills per year.  Each year from 2009 through 2014, Dr. Cummings prescribed approximately 10 times as many hydrocodone and benzodiazepine pills as the average Kentucky primary care prescriber, and approximately 20 times the number of Oxycodone pills as the average Kentucky primary care prescriber.  In 2012, for example, Dr. Cummings wrote enough prescriptions to provide every man, woman, and child in Albany with 230 hydrocodone pills, 134 Oxycodone pills, and 178 benzodiazepine pills, the Sentencing Memo said. 

As part of the investigation, medical experts reviewed several of Dr. Cummings’s patient charts and found, amongst other things, that Dr. Cummings:  1) failed to establish an objective pain diagnosis; 2) failed to establish treatment plans and goals;  3) excessively prescribed “highly addictive drugs” without sufficient documentation;  4) failed to take action even when patients failed urine drug screens and pills counts;  5) failed to take action when KASPER reports were suspicious for drug abuse;  6) prescribed dangerous combinations of controlled and non-controlled substances; and 7) continued to prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines to patients for years without evidence of clinical improvement, which was detailed in the Sentencing Memo before the Court.

For example, on August 26, 2010, Dr. Cummings’ noted that his office received a report that his patient, S.F., was “selling oxy.”  On October 20, 2010, Dr. Cummings received another report that S.F. was “selling meds.”  Nonetheless, Dr. Cummings continued refilling S.F.’s prescriptions, and on December 20, 2010, Dr. Cummings inexplicably doubled S.F.’s prescription for oxycodone.  Moreover, on December 20, 2010, Dr. Cummings also prescribed Xanax for S.F., even though S.F.’s urine drug screen reflected that S.F. tested negative for the Xanax Dr. Cummings had prescribed in November.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Weiser and Ann Marie Blaylock, and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kentucky State Police, and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Office of the Inspector General.

 

Updated July 29, 2019