A University of Maryland Medical Center surgeon has been charged with prescription drug fraud arising from a case that police say may involve as many as 100 forged prescriptions for two drugs, including the painkiller OxyContin.
Dr. John Flowers, a general surgeon and associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and his wife, Cindy, are accused of writing - and getting filled - prescriptions for OxyContin and the weight therapy drug Phentermine when they weren't needed for medical reasons, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday.
Dr. Flowers, who joined the faculty at the medical school in 1991, was placed on administrative leave Thursday, according to a statement from the university. "Until the charges are resolved, Dr. Flowers will not treat patients, conduct research or teach at the University of Maryland," the statement read.
The couple, who live in Severn, could not be reached to comment yesterday.
Detectives with the county police pharmaceutical diversion unit began investigating the surgeon and his wife, both 43, in October. A Glen Burnie pharmacist became suspicious about painkiller prescriptions dropped off by Cindy Flowers, police said.
The pharmacist told police that the she had seen Cindy Flowers with several other prescriptions in her purse and that she had left in a hurry when questioned about the painkillers, leaving behind her digital planner, Detective Scott Gunn said.
Detectives checked pharmacy records in Glen Burnie and Severn and found John Flowers was the prescribing physician for OxyContin and Phentermine for four patients, two of whom were known to county detectives from previous prescription fraud cases, Gunn said.
In November, police said, a Glen Burnie pharmacy surveillance camera videotaped John Flowers trying to fill a Phentermine prescription under another name. The same month, Baltimore City police said, they found several prescription bottles with John Flowers as the listing physician during a house search in another case. Cindy Flowers was at the house being raided, Gunn said.
The day before Thanksgiving, Anne Arundel County police searched the couple's home, where they said they found marijuana, several prescriptions for the drugs and several bottles of the pills listed to different patients.
Police said John Flowers admitted to prescribing the medications illegally this year. Authorities also said Cindy Flowers told them she forged her husband's signature on prescriptions to support her $200,000-a-year OxyContin habit.
The couple's relationship to the two others who filled the prescriptions is under investigation, police said.
John Flowers was charged with one count of attempting to obtain a Schedule IV Controlled Dangerous Substance by uttering a false prescription and one count of attempting to obtain a Schedule IV CDS by concealment of material fact.
Cindy Flowers was charged with two counts of attempting to obtain a Schedule II CDS by uttering a false prescription.
County authorities said yesterday they expect Dr. Flowers and his wife to be served with criminal summons next week.
In the past several years, doctors and pharmacists across the United States have been accused of abusing OxyContin, either by selling the painkiller with heroin-like highs or using it themselves. This week, a Pennsylvania doctor was sentenced to 30 to 120 years in prison for dispensing OxyContin to drug addicts and dealers on demand.