Philly abortion doc charged with running pill mill

AP News
Posted: Dec 14, 2011 5:31 PM
Philly abortion doc charged with running pill mill

A doctor charged with severing the spinal cords of babies born alive at his abortion clinic also wrote thousands of illegal prescriptions for painkillers and sedatives out of the now-closed business, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The profitable pill mill brought in about $200,000 for Kermit Gosnell from June 2008 until authorities shuttered the west Philadelphia clinic more than 18 months later, according to an indictment.

There was no legitimate medical purpose for the prescriptions Gosnell wrote for highly addictive and often-abused pills like OxyContin, Percocet and Xanax or for cough syrups with codeine, prosecutors said.

His pain management business was so brisk, according to the indictment, that Gosnell added another phone line at the Women's Medical Society to handle all the calls for prescription refills.

Authorities said the doctor wrote hundreds of prescriptions a month, topping out at 2,300 prescriptions in January 2010, the month before federal drug and FBI agents raided the clinic.

During the raid, agents reported finding deplorable and unsanitary conditions, including fetal parts in jars. That led to a state investigation in which authorities accused Gosnell of routinely performing illegal late-term abortions and said some viable babies were killed by having their spinal cords severed with scissors.

Gosnell, 70, was charged with murder in the deaths of seven babies and one patient, but he has denied the allegations. His attorney, John J. McMahon Jr., said Wednesday he was unaware of the new charges, which include drug conspiracy and distribution.

Seven clinic staff members were also charged Wednesday with drug conspiracy or distribution offenses.

According to prosecutors, patients paid $115 to $150 for the prescriptions and received cursory, if any, examinations. They were allowed to purchase multiple prescriptions under different names, authorities said.

Gosnell and his staff dispensed some of the medicine over the 20 months covered by the indictment, including more than 900,000 pills and 19,000 ounces of cough syrup with codeine, authorities said.

Authorities closed the clinic after the raid and the state Board of Medicine suspended Gosnell's license.

A state grand jury report last January called the clinic a "baby charnel house" and led to Gosnell's arrest on murder charges. He has been jailed without bail since then.

Gosnell's wife, Pearl, pleaded guilty Tuesday to performing an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, two counts of conspiracy and participating in a corruption organization, according to court documents.