Indicted Doctor Is Self-Proclaimed 'Poster Child' For 'Irrational' Drug War

By Victoria Kim 05/27/16

Jeffrey Bado, who prescribed over 3 million oxycodone from 2010-2012, will stand trial on a 322-count federal indictment for overprescribing painkillers.

Indicted Doctor Is Self-Proclaimed 'Poster Child' For 'Irrational' Drug War

A Philadelphia physician who will stand trial for being one of the largest prescribers of narcotics in Pennsylvania spoke to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week, in an attempt to explain the rationale behind his prescribing decisions.

In the words of the Post-Gazette, Jeffrey Bado argues that he is “just a sacrificial lamb in an irrational drug war.” The doctor will stand trial in September on a 322-count federal indictment for overprescribing oxycodone and other drugs, leaving a trail of addicted patients and at least one death.

“As one of the largest prescribers of opiates in the commonwealth, I’m a poster child,” the physician of 25 years told the Post-Gazette.

Bado, who surrendered his medical license in 2013, is the fourth largest prescriber of oxycodone in the United States, aside from hospitals and other such facilities. According to the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine, the 60-year-old doctor prescribed more than 3 million oxycodone pills from 2010 to 2012.

Bado argued that opioid pain medication allows people to function. “As you increase the dose, patients get the reduction in pain,” he told the Post-Gazette. “What does come into play, of course, is the second aspect of this, which is tolerance.” 

While working at a practice that specialized in spinal blocks, he said he found other pain treatments to be ineffective. “It demonstrated for me the futility and the relatively ineffective utility of those procedures for chronic, intractable pain,” he said. His solution was to “ramp up the pharmacologic end of it.”

One of his patients from years ago, 25-year-old Joseph Armstrong, had sought treatment for anxiety from Bado. He was prescribed Xanax, then Vicodin, then Percocet for back pain, and eventually methadone and much higher doses of oxycodone. Armstrong died in 2011. Bado blames his death on cocaine, which Armstrong also used. 

Bado is indeed a poster child for an issue that’s somewhat unique to Pennsylvania—relative to other states, it’s easier for doctors who overprescribe to go undetected by state medical boards, which have the power to fine, suspend, or revoke medical licenses. According to a recent report by the Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania lags behind other states when it comes to disciplining doctors who overprescribe powerful opioids. 

Another Pennsylvania doctor, 63-year-old Glenn Bryan Davis, was sentenced in February to six years in federal prison for the same reason. Davis’ patients would travel from New York and Mississippi to get prescriptions of oxycodone, OxyContin, Opana, methadone, morphine, and fentanyl patches. According to an FBI affidavit, one patient was prescribed 5,010 powerful painkillers in one month.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr