LAS VEGAS -- The arrests of a local doctor, his assistant and a pharmacist highlight the problem of Las Vegas pill mills.
While a statewide database is succeeding at catching patients who doctor shop to get large amounts of painkillers, it does have a legal blind spot when it comes to catching doctors and pharmacists conspiring to get rich off of pushing pills.
Solutions Speciality Pharmacy doesn't sell Xanax or methadone but they certainly hear from a lot of people interested in getting those drugs.
"Every day, I get calls from people pricing out oxycodone. I'm assuming that most of those are fraudulent," Matt Lasarso with Solutions Specialty Pharmacy said. "We have to treat every prescription like it's a fraud."
Dr. Henri Wetselaar and his assistant David Litwin are charged by the U.S. Attorney of conspiring with pharmacist Jason Smith to sell large amounts of Xanax and Soma painkillers. It took a year to conduct the investigation and the help of the IRS.
Currently, the state pharmacy database focuses on catching patients going to multiple doctors not the doctors and pharmacists themselves.
"I think you'll see them refining the way they do things and their ability to target doctors that are basically just dealing drugs. They're not examining people. You hear things about doctors who don't have any examination equipment, they have a table set up with a chair behind it. The person comes in and they say, 'I have a pain in my arm' and they write him a script for 100 Oxycontin," drug trafficking agent Kent Bitsko said.
Local attorney Richard Johnson's client is the mother of Dr. Wetselaar's former patient, Danny White.
"He walked into the office. There was just a cursory examination. No collection of medical history, prior medical records or anything and walked out with prescriptions for methadone and Xanax. Three days later, he's dead," Johnson said.
The Murphy & Murphy law firm is now searching for former patients of the New Amsterdam Medical Group located at Harmon Avenue and Sandhill Road.
A new state law going into effect Oct. 1 is designed to strengthen oversight of pharmacies. It compels Nevada to work with other states to come up with a better database. It also provides immunity from prosecution for people who give information leading to the busting of pill mills.
Some medical providers say they often deal with Hispanic patients who are afraid to seek medical care. It's hoped the opening of a new medical clinic will change that.