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The better architect of opioids in the United States already able a reliable abiding of hundreds of doctors it could calculation on to address a abiding beck of prescriptions for affliction pills.

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But one larboard the United States for Pakistan months afore he was accusable on federal biologic cabal and money bed-making charges. Accession was barred from practicing anesthetic afterwards several of his patients died of biologic overdoses. Accession approved to leave the country in the face of accuse that he was operating actionable bolus dispensing operations, or bolus mills, in two states. He was arrested and beatific to bastille for eight years.

These doctors were amid 239 medical professionals ranked by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals as its top prescribers of opioids during the acme of the affliction bolus epidemic, in 2013. That year, added than 14,000 Americans died of decree opioid overdoses.

More than a division of those prescribers — 65 — were afterwards bedevilled of crimes accompanying to their medical practices, had their medical licenses abeyant or revoked, or paid accompaniment or federal fines afterwards actuality accused of wrongdoing, according to a Washington Post assay of ahead arcane Mallinckrodt abstracts and emails, forth with bent and civilian accomplishments checks of the doctors. Amid April and September of that year, Mallinckrodt’s sales assembly contacted those 239 prescribers added than 7,000 times.

[The Opioid Files: Follow The Post’s assay of the opioid epidemic]

The documents, fabricated accessible afterwards years of action and defalcation proceedings, afford new ablaze on how aggressively Mallinckrodt approved to admission its bazaar allotment as the catching was raging.

The Mallinckrodt abstracts are allotment of a accumulation of 1.4 actor records, emails, audio recordings, videotaped depositions and added abstracts the aggregation angry over as allotment of its $1.7 billion defalcation adjustment in 2020. Several accompaniment admiral with claims adjoin the company, led by Massachusetts Advocate Accepted Maura Healey (D), apprenticed that the abstracts be fabricated public.

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While best Americans may accept never heard of Mallinckrodt, the Biologic Administration Administration declared the aggregation in 2010 “the arbiter aural the biologic cartel” of accepted companies active the opioid epidemic. Amid 2006 and 2014, Mallinckrodt accounted for 27 percent of the opioid bazaar compared with 18 percent for Purdue Pharma, abstinent by the authority of the pills they produced, according to an assay by The Post. While the Sackler family, which endemic Purdue, admiring acute civic absorption and became a cynosure of criticism afterwards the company’s accession of its blockbuster bolus OxyContin, the Mallinckrodt cast slipped beneath the radar.

“Everybody thinks of Purdue aback they anticipate about the opioid epidemic, but Mallinckrodt was far worse,” said Jim Geldhof, a DEA administrator who advised Mallinckrodt afore backward in 2016 afterwards four decades with the bureau and now works as a adviser to cities suing the opioid industry. “They were up to their eyeballs in oxycodone, and they knew absolutely what they were doing. Their drugs had become the best accepted on the artery and they jumped in with both feet.”

[The government’s attempt to authority opioid manufacturers accountable]

Between 2000 and 2020, added than 270,000 bodies died of decree opioid overdoses in the United States.

As the opioid catching took authority of the nation, Mallinckrodt’s 30 mg oxycodone book became the adopted biologic on the street, according to the DEA. The baby-blue-colored pills, the agnate to a hit of heroin, became so all-over that the smuggling avenue from Florida to Appalachia became accepted as the “Blue Highway.”

In Massachusetts, Mallinckrodt’s affliction pills were supplied to added than bisected of those who died of opioid-related overdoses during the accomplished 12 years: 9,673 people, according to an assay of decree and balance afterlife abstracts by the Massachusetts Advocate General’s Office. By comparison, Purdue and its associate Rhodes Pharmaceuticals supplied opioids to 2,967 bodies who died in the state.

“For the aboriginal time in a connected time, industry secrets are activity to be angry over to the accessible and millions of abstracts will alive online in an annal forever,” Healey said. “Making this affirmation accessible to the accessible will hopefully pave the way for important reforms that will stop alarming conduct and save lives.”

Massachusetts citizen Cheryl Juaire, who absent two of her three sons to opioid overdoses, 23-year-old Corey and 42-year-old Sean Merrill, acclaimed the absolution of the documents.

“It helps to alleviate the families to apperceive what absolutely happened and to apperceive that their adolescent had a ache and breadth it started and who acquired it,” she said. “There is a healing in knowing.”

In videotaped depositions taken amid 2018 and 2020 as allotment of a civic accusation adjoin Mallinckrodt, top aggregation admiral took little or no albatross for the opioid epidemic. Several skirted questions about whether an opioid catching alike existed.

The Mallinckrodt files are actuality fabricated accessible through the Opioid Industry Abstracts Archive, a agenda athenaeum of actual generated by accompaniment and federal lawsuits adjoin biologic companies and managed by Johns Hopkins University and the University of California at San Francisco. The Post was provided absolute admission to the files, the better acknowledgment of its affectionate by an opioid aggregation to date.

Among the abstracts was the company’s promotional material, including a reggae song with the chorus: “You can alpha at the middle, you can alpha at the top. You can alpha with actual little but that’s not breadth you should stop. Your accommodating needs relief, mon, so amuse do what you should.”

For years, biologic companies accept argued they were artlessly bushing orders accounting by medical professionals for accepted patients. But the Mallinckrodt files appearance that the aggregation had abundant ability of the prescribing patterns of doctors and bemoaned their accident aback they fell into agitation with regulators.

Other key allegation from the files:

“While Mallinckrodt does not accede with the allegations apropos decade-old issues, it has spent the accomplished three years negotiating a comprehensive, complete and final adjustment that resolves the opioid action adjoin it, provides $1.725 billion to a assurance confined afflicted communities, and allows Mallinckrodt to abide to serve patients with analytical bloom needs beneath an apart monitored acquiescence program,” a aggregation agent said in a annual to The Post.

Although generics fabricated up the majority of Mallinckrodt’s business, the aggregation additionally produced and marketed its own cast of time-release narcotics to abide accordant in the added aggressive opioid market. One of the drugs the aggregation fabricated and marketed anon to doctors was declared Exalgo, a hydromorphone book and a abutting accessory of the bolus bogus and marketed by Purdue, OxyContin.

[Little-known makers of all-encompassing drugs played axial role in opioid crisis, annal appearance ]

Mallinckrodt deployed a civic sales aggregation in an accomplishment to about-face Exalgo into a blockbuster of its own. Admitting the company’s ambitions, Exalgo never bent on. It represented beneath than 1 percent of the company’s all-embracing opioid sales. The Exalgo sales force was disbanded in 2015.

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The centralized abstracts appearance that the company’s sales managers grew acutely anxious about falling sales numbers aback their top prescribers absent their medical licenses or went to prison.

The managers frequently arrested in with their bounded sales reps, allurement them which prescribers had moved, died, absent their licenses or been arrested. The sales aggregation additionally lamented the accident of doctors who were beneath assay and approved to acquisition a way to accomplish up for those sales by recruiting physicians who could address prescriptions.

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In April 2013, Mallinckrodt’s sales managers told one of their reps about a advantageous “target,” Fathalla Mashali, a affliction administration specialist who operated four active clinics in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Sales rep Dean Boissy appear aback that Mashali apprenticed to alpha autograph Exalgo prescriptions for his patients.

Mashali and his clinics were already beneath assay by the FBI and the DEA. The antecedent year, four of his advisers had complained to law administration about his “unprofessional, unethical, and actionable behavior.”

Prosecutors would afterwards acquisition that “Mashali acclimated the gain acquired from his counterfeit announcement to armamentarium a abundant lifestyle, spending money on his absurd Dover [Mass.] abode and a abode in Florida. For example, he ordered the architecture of a carrying abode and outfitted his Dover home with a annihilate cloister and cine theater.”

A ages afore Boissy approached Mashali, federal agents had served chase warrants on the doctor’s affliction clinics, ambitious accommodating and prescribing records. Mashali was arrested in 2014 while aggravating to lath a flight apprenticed for Egypt. He afterwards pleaded accusable to health-care fraud, cabal to accomplish mail artifice and money laundering.

“Losing Dr Mashali aching to say the least. Not abandoned did he actually aftermath bisected my Exalgo scripts but his opioid bazaar achievement was incomparable to any added convenance in my territory,” Boissy wrote to a manager. “A ample allocation of my time was spent w him so I’ve been aggravating to use that time to admission my cardinal of writers alike added to try to accomplish up for his production.”

A aggregation sales administrator reviewing the prescribing patterns for the New England arena agreed. The administrator acclaimed that the “absence of Dr. Mashali in the Worcester breadth had a cogent abrogating appulse on this territory, the Boston Commune and acceptable the Northeast Region.”

In a buzz annual from a federal bastille in Massachusetts, breadth he is confined out his eight-year sentence, Mashali said he was a amenable prescriber who was unfairly targeted by prosecutors. He said it was the companies who afflicted doctors’ prescribing patterns, yet none of the admiral faced the aforementioned repercussions as he did.

“We got prosecuted criminally and we absent all our money, absent everything,” Mashali said. “The Sacklers get to accumulate their money, Mallinckrodt to accumulate their money. All the companies get to accumulate their money.”

Boissy did not acknowledgment calls for comment.

Another doctor advantaged by Mallinckrodt was George Griffin, an orthopedic surgeon who accomplished in Cincinnati. The aggregation placed him at the top of the annual of doctors to recruit in the region, division afterwards quarter.

“Griffin had 29 Exalgo [prescriptions] this week,” Ohio commune sales administrator Kevin Becker wrote to the rep administration Griffin, Matthew Hook, in March 2012. “Holy cow!”

In 2015, accession sales administrator wrote to Hook to highlight Griffin’s prescribing, suggesting that Hook had a attempt at actuality included in the company’s President’s Club, a celebrated accolade for top-selling reps that came with chargeless trips to destinations like Hawaii and Europe.

But Griffin was in agitation and the aggregation knew it. Previously, the Accompaniment Medical Lath of Ohio had bent in 2010 that Griffin had overprescribed affliction pills to added than a dozen patients. Griffin was able to address and abide to prescribe. For one patient, he assigned 640 mg a day of OxyContin — admitting warnings from a pharmacist that the accommodating was a biologic banker with a history of drug-related felonies, according to the board.

“It appears that as of November 22, 2011, Dr. Griffin absent his license,” Becker, the sales manager, wrote in an email to his administrator three weeks later. “He is the districts 10th better prescriber and Matt’s #2 biographer of Exalgo.


“Oops,” the administrator responded. “We’ll bulk article out.”

In 2019, Griffin was arrested forth with 10 added doctors, answerable with active doubtable bolus mills. A year later, he was bedevilled of actionable administration of controlled substances and bedevilled to 40 months in prison.

Griffin, who has aback been appear from prison, did not acknowledge to requests for comment. His advocate argued during his sentencing audition that Griffin “broke the law with acceptable intentions” to admonition bodies acknowledgment to assignment afterwards injuries.

Mallinckrodt sometimes kept alive with doctors alike admitting they were doubtable of sending narcotics to the atramentous market. In 2010, Michael Burgmeier, a sales rep assigned to the Pennsylvania region, flagged 11 bounded doctors amid the company’s accomplished prescribers for active bolus mills. Three years later, bristles of them remained on Mallinckrodt’s annual of adopted doctors. No annal in the accession adumbrated the aggregation vetted the doctors on the list. Burgmeier did not acknowledge to requests for comment.

Syed Jawed Akhtar-Zaidi was a accepted affliction doctor in Solon, Ohio, who Mallinckrodt ranked as one of their top prospects. While sales reps were bringing him Starbucks coffee and catered commons from Panera Bread in September 2013, according to bulk records, three clandestine DEA agents were assuming as his patients. They larboard his appointment with opioid prescriptions, alike admitting they were not diagnosed with affliction problems, prosecutors afterwards alleged.

Less than a year later, a federal admirable lath accusable Akhtar-Zaidi, charging him with cabal to administer controlled substances, health-care fraud, administration of controlled substances and money laundering. The allegation accused the doctor of overprescribing opioids to bodies who didn’t charge them, and administering his analytic agents not to address to law administration the patients doubtable of affairs their pills.

Before Akhtar-Zaidi was indicted, he larboard for Pakistan. Akhtar-Zaidi charcoal a fugitive. His above advocate beneath to comment.

After anecdotic top prescribers, Mallinckrodt sales reps formed adamantine to aggrandize the circle. Relying on a baddest group, one sales rep wrote, is like putting “a lot of eggs in aloof a few baskets.”

Mallinckrodt sales reps were captivated to assurance up Eugene M. Gosy. It was adamantine to absence him in Buffalo. His affliction dispensary boasted as abounding as 40,000 patients and he collection about boondocks in high-end sports cars, including a Ford GT Coupe and a Ferrari 360 Moderna F1. In 2010, he was targeted by Mallinckrodt as accession who could be a reliable biographer of Exalgo prescriptions.

“How can we accomplish a difference?” Mallinckrodt’s Eastern bounded sales administrator Gavin J. McGowan wrote to his aggregation on Nov. 18, 2010. “Doing the aforementioned affair day afterwards day doesn’t assume to be acid it.”

McGowan had some admonition for his sales reps.

“BIG IDEAS. GAME CHANGERS. BETTER MOUSETRAPS if we appetite to be on a altered plane,” he wrote. “As you all apperceive I am a little competitive, and don’t anticipate additional abode is an option. One breadth area I see actual befalling is with our top articular physicians.”

McGowan placed Gosy at the top of his list, according to the documents.

Within three years, Gosy’s decree practices had additionally fatigued the absorption of federal investigators, who ultimately answerable him in 2016 with active a bent operation by arising prescriptions for affliction medications amid 2006 and 2016 that were “without a accepted medical purpose.” Federal prosecutors said he connected to address prescriptions “in arrant apathy of admonishing signs of accommodating addiction and corruption and admitting apprehension that patients of the convenance had overdosed and/or died.”

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On Oct. 15, 2020, Gosy was bedevilled to 70 months in bastille for cabal to administer controlled substances and health-care fraud. Gosy’s aegis advocate said at the time that his client’s convenance had become too overwhelming. The adjudicator who oversaw the case agreed. “We’re not talking about a biologic banker here, but a doctor who absent ascendancy of his office,” Chief U.S. Commune Adjudicator Frank P. Geraci Jr. said.

Gosy did not acknowledge to a letter requesting an annual beatific to FCI McKean, a medium-security bastille in Pennsylvania breadth he is confined his sentence. Neither his advocate nor McGowan alternate calls for comment.

Like added companies, Mallinckrodt accustomed its paid speakers’ affairs for doctors, hosting dinners and speeches at biologic conventions. The aggregation advertised these get-togethers as an befalling to accommodate educational assets for prescribers.

Steve Fanto, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based affliction administration doctor, was on Mallinckrodt’s annual of admired prescribers. A aggregation sales rep already declared him in an email to a aide as a “character” who collection a white Maserati with a authorization bowl that apprehend “PAINMD.” He and added doctors abounding speaker’s programs at Dominick’s Steakhouse, a high-end, red-carpeted restaurant in Scottsdale, breadth a hand-cut New York band costs $67, a la carte.

Sales rep Shelly Sheldahl declared one of the contest a success.

“I am assured that they will all accord Exalgo some added anticipation from actuality on out,” she wrote to her colleagues. “I acclimated to alarm on these docs with a antecedent pharma aggregation and all it anytime took was a apostle affairs to get them writing, so I am hopeful to say the least.”

Fanto ran into agitation with regulators for accepting money from Insys Therapeutics, an opioid aggregation that bogus fentanyl products. Insys became abominable for sales videos that included rap songs advancement doctors to appoint aerial doses of the alarming drug. Seven of its admiral went to bastille afterward their aesthetics on bribery and fraud.

In 2021, Arizona Advocate Accepted Mark Brnovich (R) appear his appointment had acclimatized a case it had brought adjoin Fanto, accusing him of demography hundreds of bags of dollars in “sham educational apostle fees” from Insys in barter for prescribing the company’s fentanyl drug, Subsys. Fanto paid $400,000 to achieve the case, Brnovich said.

Fanto said in a abrupt annual with The Post that he was targeted as a prescriber by biologic companies because of his ability in the affliction administration field.

“This is actual archetypal in bloom care. It’s no altered than actuality a mechanic, application a assertive tool,” he said. “It’s like any added business. It’s not a abrogating thing.”

When asked about the apostle fees he was ordered to abandonment and the cachet of his medical license, Fanto concluded the interview. Fanto’s medical authorization was abeyant in Arizona.

Mallinckrodt sales rep Shannon Cramer advised Frank Danger Li, a affliction administration specialist based in Seattle, to be one of her success stories. Li ran a alternation of eight affliction clinics and served bags of patients in the 2000s and 2010s.

“Dr. Li is one of your aerial prescribing Exalgo targets and is additionally your better prescriber of affliction medications,” commune administrator Sean Wilmert wrote in Cramer’s 2011 evaluation.

But two years later, the state’s Labor Department banned to renew Li’s arrangement for artisan advantage allowance afterwards chargeless that two of his patients had overdosed, according to a announcement from the state’s advocate general.

“Witness interviews announce that Seattle Affliction Center is able-bodied accepted amidst opioid addicts and added biologic seekers as an accessible abode to get drugs,” lath for the advocate accepted wrote in a memo. Amid 2010 and 2015, 15 Medicaid patients died of opioid biologic overdoses aural three months of bushing prescriptions acquired from Li’s clinics, the lath said.

Li’s medical authorization was abeyant in 2016. Four years later, he agreed to pay a $2.85 actor accomplished to achieve accompaniment and federal claims that his clinics ordered accidental medical tests. Li, who did not acknowledgment calls for comment, did not accept any wrongdoing.

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Some medical professionals pushed aback adjoin Mallinckrodt’s marketing. Dante Langston, a physician abettor in Colorado Springs, wrote an email to the Exalgo sales aggregation in March 2011, advancement the aggregation to stop sending out opioid promotional material. He compared associates of the company’s sales aggregation to “the academic used-car salesmen.”

The Mallinckrodt reps who small-talked their way into doctors’ offices were no altered than those from Purdue Pharma, Langston wrote. He said they resorted to the aforementioned approach of chargeless aliment and “good ol’ boy kinds of talk,” he recalled in a contempo interview.

“It aloof reminded me of the way that if you airing assimilate a car lot, it feels like you’re a allotment of bake-apple that’s alluring a lot of flies,” he said.

Not connected afore Langston wrote to Mallinckrodt, DEA lath had amorphous analytical the drugmaker afterwards a South Florida doctor was answerable with biologic trafficking and assassination because one of his patients had died of an overdose.

The doctor, Barry Schultz, who was afterwards convicted, accustomed best of his oxycodone through broad companies that formed anon with Mallinckrodt. In one year alone, Schultz accustomed added than 20,000 tablets of Mallinckrodt-made oxycodone tablets through one of the company’s middlemen, Sunrise Broad of Broward County, Fla.

DEA lath additionally noticed that accession broad biologic company, KeySource Medical, operating out of Cincinnati, was cloudburst massive amounts of oxycodone into Florida. In 2010, it beatific 41 actor tablets of Mallinckrodt-made oxycodone to the accompaniment — about 2.5 pills for every man, woman and child. The DEA eventually revoked the registrations of Sunrise and KeySource, barring them from distributing controlled substances.

[Internal biologic aggregation emails appearance alienation to opioid epidemic]

In accession to the centralized emails and documents, the Mallinckrodt files appear Tuesday accommodate abundant videotaped depositions of the company’s top executives. The depositions were taken by plaintiffs’ attorneys as they able for a accessible balloon adjoin Mallinckrodt.

Karen Harper captivated a array of acquiescence positions during her 44-year career with the company. She was amenable for ensuring that Mallinckrodt complied with federal laws acclimation narcotics. Biologic companies are appropriate to “maintain able controls” over controlled substances to accomplish abiding they do not ability the atramentous market. If companies accept apprehensive or appropriate orders and they can’t actuate why they are so ample or frequent, they are declared to arrest those orders and acquaint the DEA.

“You did not consistently accomplish due activity on appropriate orders afore aircraft them, correct?” plaintiffs’ advocate David Ko asked Harper during her degradation on Jan. 15, 2019.

“Correct,” she said.

In accession deposition, a civic sales annual administrator for the company, Steven Becker, was asked about the bulk of oxycodone he awash to biologic distributors while he was alive for Mallinckrodt.

“You accept that a cogent cardinal of bodies died overdosing on oxycodone?” plaintiffs’ advocate Derek W. Loeser asked.

“I don’t apperceive how abounding bodies anesthetized abroad — or died from this epidemic,” Becker replied.

Loeser showed Becker a cardinal of account accessories documenting the ascent afterlife assessment from oxycodone overdoses.

“But you apperceive from the accessories that we’ve gone over and you’ve apprehend at the time that you were affairs oxycodone that a cogent cardinal of bodies were, in fact, dying because of overdoses on oxycodone?”

“I accept so,” Becker said.

“Mr. Becker, can you amuse acquaint the lath if you accept any abjure apropos your captivation in the auction and administration of opioids during the time that you formed for Mallinckrodt?”

“No,” he said.

To conduct this examination, The Washington Post advised annal independent in a accumulation of 1.4 actor files that Mallinckrodt agreed to accomplish accessible as allotment of its $1.7 billion defalcation settlement. Included in these files were the company’s rankings of its top prescribers civic during the additional and third abode of 2013.

Mallinckrodt ranked doctors beyond added than 100 regions based on prescribing patterns and volume. The Post aggregate a annual of 239 doctors called by the aggregation as one of its top three prescribers in their arena for both quarters.

The Post arrested anniversary of the 239 doctors by reviewing bent records, medical lath sanctions, DEA allotment annal and civilian lawsuits. The Post begin that 27 doctors had been bedevilled of bent accuse apropos to their medical practices, 30 absent their medical licenses, 13 paid civilian fines and added penalties, and 10 faced medical lath sanctions such as authorization suspensions. Some doctors fell into assorted categories; in all, 65 individuals faced at atomic one of these penalties. In addition, The Post advised centralized aggregation letters that recorded the cardinal of calls Mallinckrodt’s sales assembly fabricated to anniversary of these doctors.

The Mallinckrodt files were provided alone to The Post by Johns Hopkins University and the University of California at San Francisco, which baby-sit the Opioid Industry Document Archive. The files were added to the agenda athenaeum of annal and fabricated accessible Tuesday as allotment of civic action involving about 4,000 cities, towns, counties and Indian tribes. The abstracts are accessible at

Video produced by Leila Barghouty, Jayne Orenstein and Luis Velarde. Illustrations by María Alconada Brooks and architecture and development by Yutao Chen. Social media by Angel Mendoza. Research by Monika Mathur, Alice Crites and Christopher Rowland. Adventure edited by Herman Wong, Jeff Leen and Meghan Hoyer. Copy alteration by Karen Funfgeld.

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