Indian American cardiologist Dr. Devendrakumar I. Patel, 59, of Elko, Nevada has pleaded guilty to distributing highly addictive prescription drugs Oxycodone and Hydrocodone to patients without a medical purpose.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Patel, who owns and operates Northeastern Nevada Cardiology, contributed to the opioid epidemic by unlawfully prescribing opioids and other prescription narcotics to patients for financial gain.
As part of his plea, Patel admitted that, between September 2015 and February 2016, he prescribed Oxycodone (such as OxyContin) and Hydrocodone (such as Norco) to patients without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice.
As these prescriptions were in direct violation of his duty as a long-term licensed medical doctor, his license was suspended upon his arrest in December 2017, when he was also indicted by a grand jury.
His sentencing is scheduled for March 18, 2019, with a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.
According to the CDC, approximately 115 Americans die every day of an opioid-related overdose.
The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has reported that in 2016 alone, there were 408 opioid-related deaths in the state.