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New York 'Pill Mill' Doctor Found Dead

Dr. Tomasito Virey was one of more than two dozen people implicated in New York’s Astramed scheme earlier this month.

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By Shawn Dwyer

02/24/14

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Dr. Tomasito Virey, 59, of Manhasset, N.Y. was found dead of a suspected overdose on the very same day that Astramed was busted by federal agents for running one of the biggest illegal painkiller dispensaries in the northeast. Virey's death went previously unreported and was revealed to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

On February 4, Virey was found in the bedroom of a relative’s home in Amherst, N.Y. as authorities were making over two dozen arrests at Astramed, a primary care clinic in Bronx, N.Y. Astramed was the target of a federal investigation that uncovered one of the largest pill mill schemes in the northeast, according to one of the authorities involved in the bust. The clinic was alleged to have sold some 31,500 phony painkiller prescriptions to drug dealers, which were then used to purchase around 5.5 million Oxycodone pills in and around New York.

According to Capt. Enzio Villalta of the Amherst Police Department, prescription drugs were found in the home where Virey died. Police are still awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether his death was accidental or suicide.

Virey’s death came at an odd time in the investigation. Though authorities weren’t planning on arresting him, Virey was contacted by federal agents prior to the February 4 sweep while previously being the subject of an NBC affiliate’s report about suspicions that Astramed was a pill mill. According to the states Department of Health records, Virey had written some 3,200 prescriptions for painkillers, more than any other doctor in the state. In the NBC report, he naturally declined to admit that he was dispensing Oxycodone illegally. "Once I see the patient is addicted, I refer them for detoxification, like rehab,” Virey said at the time.

In 2012, Virey turned over the operations of Astramed to another doctor in order to shake off the bad publicity.

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