Doctor accused of overprescribing 500,000 pills faces criminal charges

A south Fort Myers doctor whose license was suspended 10 months ago now faces a criminal charge of illegally prescribing pain pills.

A federal complaint alleges Debra Roggow overprescribed oxycodone, morphine and other painkillers — including 563,000 tablets — to eight patients over a 10-year span while working as an osteopathic physician at Rehabilitation Consultants, 13685 Doctor's Way.

The 13-page complaint cites medical experts who reviewed Roggow's prescribing habits, former partners at her practice and local pharmacists who filled prescriptions written by Roggow — all of whom say Roggow was overprescribing.

One medical expert said Roggow "was prescribing three to 10 times more narcotic medication than any other doctor would prescribe," the complaint said. A former partner of Roggow's told investigators that "only one percent of her patients had a legitimate diagnosis and low dose opiates."

Roggow's lawyer, Lee Hollander, said his client was legally prescribing pain medication, and that the claims by experts and former partners ignore the medical circumstances of her patients.

"We seriously disagree with those assessments," Hollander said. "For the individual patients, there were legitimate medical reasons to prescribe the amounts given. They spend a lot of time here on amounts of pills, but what they don't tell you is what the prescriptions were for."

Drug Enforcement Administration agents began investigating Roggow after her license was suspended in December 2010 by state health care regulators. Several patient medical files and lists were seized in March, and investigators interviewed pharmacists who had suspicions about Roggow overprescribing pain pills, the complaint stated.

"The pharmacists stated that many of the patients did not appear to have physical injuries or ailments that would support such high amounts of controlled substances, which indicated to them that the subjects were selling the drugs or not taking them as prescribed," the complaint said.

Roggow, who was licensed in 1992, has previously said she is being targeted by state officials cracking down on pill mills. Her license remains suspended.

"I understand pill mills are a big thing," Hollander said. "But you have to look at the individual doctor and the individual patient. We just think they're making a huge mistake."

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Comments » 1

sprottn writes:

Considering the media made it a point to report on Dr. Debra Roggow when her license to practice was suspended & again when she was federally charged during operation pill nation II, I just wanted to share what probably will not be reported this week.

Dr Roggow was not facing charges of running a pill mill.
She was under much more severe federal charges, 10 felony counts of knowingly and willfully prescribing medications that were not within her scope to prescribe.

It was claimed that she handed out bottles of pills to known addicts even though she had NO dispensary at her offices and she did not make patients fill prescriptions at specific pharmacies.

It actually took the jury less than 1 full hour of deliberation to come back with a NOT GUILTY on all 10 counts.

It would be a great investigative piece to see how the DEA was able to waste so much of our taxpayer money charging a woman who had a spotless record and was the recipient of several awards yet we still have several doctors who are practicing in this town and are actually meeting the criteria of being a "Pill Mill" or have horrendous track records and should lose their licenses.

You know that to defend her name and reputation, it probably will bankrupt her of any savings so while she can breathe easy and claim victory, look at what has been lost because a few overzealous agents who are pushed to produce results to justify the funding for their jobs.

It makes one wonder why certain doctors are left to poison our area and a very caring doctor was handed to the wolves.

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