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."