In rogue doctors’ hands, medicine designed to treat addiction turns into a new habit

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Courier-Journal on 06/08/2017 by Laura Ungar

Dr. Roi Reed couldn’t always make it to his Suboxone clinic in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, but addicts still got their prescriptions — from his receptionist and maintenance man.

The two stood in for the doctor when he wasn’t there, seeing patients and phoning in scripts, providing easy access to an opioid instead of the path to recovery promised by the clinic’s name: Restart Medical.

A new employee complained to police, and Kentucky’s medical board eventually barred Reed from practicing last year. In a recent interview, the 63-year-old Winchester physician, who said he had suffered a head injury, conceded, “You can’t argue with the board.” He let his medical license expire in February.

The Courier-Journal compared a federal list of Kentucky doctors authorized to treat opioid addiction with buprenorphine, the main ingredient in Suboxone, against state medical board records on physician discipline. The CJ also examined regulators’ reports on doctors, reviewed government rules about Suboxone prescribing and interviewed doctors, drug experts, officials and patients.

(Deeper dive: Scroll to the bottom of this article for details on the 27 disciplined doctors.)