An Alaska doctor and nurse practitioner are facing separate federal narcotics charges for allegedly distributing “large amounts of opioids and other powerful narcotics by writing prescriptions for ‘patients’ without medical examinations and lacking medical necessity,” the Department of Justice said Wednesday.
Jessica Joyce Spayd, an Anchorage resident who owns a medical clinic in Eagle River, Alaska, and Dr. Lavern R. Davidhizar, a licensed osteopathic physician who owns a clinic of his own in Soldotna, Alaska, could each face prison time for up to 20 years for what U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder described as “the creation of addicts, crime, and sometimes death.”
Both allegedly gave out prescriptions to individuals without medical examinations, or when it was unnecessary.
Serious Allegations of Overprescribing Pills
Spayd, 48, is accused of prescribing more than four million dosage units of opioid narcotics between 2014 and 2019 to more than 450 supposed patients, which the Justice Department alleges resulted in the death of two individuals. The DOJ said it is continuing to investigate Spayd’s alleged unlawful distribution. She faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years to life in federal prison for the most serious charges alleged in the complaint, the DOJ said.
Davidhizar, 74, is accused of prescribing more than 700,000 narcotic pills between 2017 and 2019, activity that the DOJ says earned him the nickname the “Candy Man” because “it was common knowledge that people could obtain pain medication prescriptions from him even though they did not have a legitimate medical need.”
“During that time, the leading medications prescribed, but not limited to, were hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and tramadol,” the Justice Department said in the press release.
Hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone are the most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like Spayd, law enforcement continues to investigate Davidhizar, who faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Search warrants for both Spayd and Davidhizar were executed on Tuesday.
In a press release, Schroder said that law enforcement is “committed to prosecuting the illegal distribution of controlled substances, whether the crimes are committed by medical professionals or street dealers.”
The arrests were made by special agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“While facing a frightening opioid drug epidemic, it is truly sad that these two medical professionals would deliberately contribute to this on-going health crisis,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.
The CDC estimates that 46 people die every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids; in 2017, the CDC said that such prescriptions were involved in more than 35 percent of all opioid overdose deaths.