Animal hospital office manager prescribed himself over 10g of opioid-containing dog cough pills – Boston Herald

Melissa Paradise was unable to keep her opioid Eden.

Paradise, 43, of West Barnstable, was sentenced in federal court in Boston on Wednesday to serve time — one day — and one year on supervised release for six counts of acquiring a controlled substance using a phone number. recording attributed to another person and eight counts of acquisition. a substance controlled by misrepresentation, fraud, tampering, deception and subterfuge.

The other person? He’s a veterinarian. Paradise worked as an office manager for a veterinary hospital and was responsible for prescription records.

She used her position, according to federal authorities, to forge scripts for tablets of a mixture of hydrocodone and homatropine – a formula used to treat dogs with coughs, according to Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Guides – using the DEA registration number assigned to the veterinarian she worked for. . She also forged another vet’s signature for some of the scripts.

Hydrocodone is an opiate narcotic used to relieve pain. Homatropin is the drug that actually targets the cough — it’s an anticholinergic drug designed to inhibit nerve impulses that trigger involuntary muscle movements or bodily impulses, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“In late 2018 and 2019, federal investigators noted that an unusually large quantity of hydrocodone had been ordered by the veterinary office,” the US Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts wrote in a statement. “In June 2019, investigators conducted an audit at the veterinary hospital.”

Paradise gave in to his scheme on the day of the audit, the feds say.

According to the May 27, 2021 indictment in the case, Paradise prescribed himself a total of 103 bottles of dog cough medicine over 14 dates spanning October 2016 and May 2019. Each bottle contained 100 tablets of 5 mg — which she ordered in batches of six to eight bottles at a time — for a total of 10,300 tablets.

Opioid abuse and deaths continue to rise both in the United States as a whole and in Massachusetts. There were 149,663 deaths in the United States in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, representing both true opioids and synthetic opioids like methadone – a class of drugs that pales all others in comparison the deadly havoc it has wrought in this country.

In Massachusetts, a total of 4,436 people died from opioid use during the same period. The CDC says in its data that these numbers are all underrepresented due to incomplete data, which means the numbers could be higher.

Courtesy/Centers for Disease Control

A graph released by the Centers for Disease Control showing the upward trend in drug-related deaths, and in particular opioid-related deaths, in the United States. It shows that almost 150,000 people died in 2021 due to opioid use. (Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control)

This chart released by the Centers for Disease Control shows that 4,436 people died in Massachusetts in 2021 due to opioid use.  (Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control)

Courtesy/Centers for Disease Control

This chart released by the Centers for Disease Control shows that 4,436 people died in Massachusetts in 2021 due to opioid use. (Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control)

Benjamin M. Yerger