Two Nigerian-born pharmacists have been indicted by a US court for being involved in the illegal distribution of addictive drugs.
Enitan Sodiya-Ogundipe, 42, and Abiodun Fabode, 56, were said to have conspired with Amir Rafi, another pharmacist, and Vasan Deshikachar, a medical doctor, to distribute more than 344,737 dosage units of Schedule II opioid prescriptions to vendors who sell them on the streets.
The controlled drugs were said to have a street value in excess of $9,600,000. The scheme ran from January 2015 through March 2018.
Deshikachar is accused of prescribing oxycodone and oxymorphone, two of the most addictive opioids, to vendors who would take the fake patients to pharmacies owned by Sodiya-Ogundipe, Rafi and Fabode where the drugs are dispensed.
Commenting on the case, Jeff Sessions, US attorney-general, said: “It’s incredible but true that we have seen that some of our trusted doctors, pharmacists, and medical professionals have chosen to violate their oaths and exploit our unprecedented drug crisis for profit.
“Last summer, I sent a dozen of our top federal prosecutors to focus solely on the problem of opioid-related health care fraud in places where the epidemic was at its worst — including Eastern Michigan.
“In this case, three pharmacists and one doctor allegedly conspired to distribute nearly $10 million worth of opioids into the community, potentially spreading addiction and causing untold damage to Michigan families.
“I want to thank the FBI, DEA, our fabulous prosecutors Brandy McMillion and Brant Cook, the IRS, the Oakland County Sheriff’s office and all of our state and local partners for their hard work on this case. As this indictment makes clear, we are determined to reduce opioid fraud and to ultimately end the drug epidemic.”
Schneider, an attorney, said the diversion of prescription pills to the street market is a direct cause of the current opioid epidemic facing the US.
“We are focusing on charging doctors, pharmacists and the networks that are contributing to the opioid problem in our district,” he said.
“As we are in the midst of the worst opioid epidemic in our lifetime, it is important we team up with our federal partners and target those who peddle this death.”
Meanwhile, Sodiya-Ogudipe was also charged with money laundering for diverting proceeds of the illegal deal to her pharmacy.
She is the treasurer of the Nigerian Pharmacists Association of Michigan.