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Larissa Doucette

Nine defendants, including three licensed pharmacists, face federal charges related to their alleged roles in operating a prescription painkiller ring on the East Coast, NBC News reports. According to a federal indictment (PDF) obtained by NBC, the multi-million dollar mail-order scheme involved the illegal distribution of oxycodone, hydromorphone, morphine sulfate, and other painkillers at a marked-up rate. The pharmacies allegedly filled prescriptions for hundreds of thousands of pills, charging as much as $9 per pill for oxycodone. The two pharmacy owners – Paul Wiseberg and Robert Kalaba –allegedly used intermediaries to purchase pharmacies in New York and New Jersey in November 2011, then hired the three indicted pharmacists to fill painkiller prescriptions for patients who, according to the indictment, “had no legitimate medical need for the drugs.” Other defendants are being charged with collaborating with pain clinics in Florida in order to access patients who were willing to pay the marked-up prices.