Doctor Who Made 6K A Day For Prescribing Oxy: "I Was A Scapegoat"

By Maggie Ethridge 10/04/18

“When I started treating people with chronic non-cancer pain. I felt it was unethical and discriminatory to limit the dose of medication."

Barry Schultz
Barry Schultz being interviewed by 60 Minutes. Photo via YouTube

Florida physician Barry Schultz was convicted to 157 years in prison for illegally prescribing enormous amounts of opioids to his patients.

Now he calls himself a "scapegoat" for the pharmaceutical companies who produce, distribute and advocate for the prescription of opioids.

Mallinckrodt pharmaceutical company was the provider of opioids in Schultz’s practice. Last year, the company paid a $35 million fine for its failure to report suspicious orders of prescription drugs. According to a recent 60 Minutes report, Mallinckrodt provided 500 million oxycodone pills to the state of Florida, which has a population of 20 million people.

Even after Mallinckrodt’s own internal investigation concluded that Dr. Schultz’s practice of prescribing had “a suspicious pattern indicating diversion,” the company continued to supply him with opioids.

Barry Schultz interviewed from prison with 60 Minutes to announce that he was a “scapegoat” for those really to blame—the opioid manufacturers.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg's office prosecuted Barry Schultz. Aronberg blamed Florida’s lax laws at the time for fueling the opioid overdose crisis. Pain clinics in Florida allowed patients to visit, pick up pills, and pay in cash. As a result, people from other states began coming to Florida to obtain opioids, creating a frenzy where waiting rooms would be overflowing.

This was the kind of pain clinic that Schultz operated in Delray Beach, Florida. DEA records show in 2010 that Dr. Schultz was prescribing some patients as many as 100 pills a day, and making more than $6,000 a day from prescribing opioids.

Despite this, Dr. Schultz refuses to take responsibility for his actions. “When I started treating people with chronic non-cancer pain,” he told 60 Minutes, “I felt it was unethical and discriminatory to limit the dose of medication. And if I had known that the overdose incidents had increased dramatically the way it had, I would have moderated my approach.”

Carol Tain's son David died in 2010 of an opioid overdose from pills prescribed by Dr. Schultz for pain management after a car accident. Tain’s mother considers Dr. Schultz responsible for her son's death.

“He didn't even examine him. He hadn't seen him in four-and-a-half years,” Tain said to 60 Minutes of the doctor’s prescriptions for her son. “He just—just wrote—wrote out these scripts… As far as I'm concerned, he's a murderer and—and not a doctor. He murdered my son. He didn't need a gun. He used his pen to murder my son.”

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.