Pittsburgh Hospice Physician’s Office Raided by DEA, FBI Agents

Federal and state agents raided the office of a hospice physician in Pittsburgh who is suspected of prescribing narcotics without a medical reason, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Agents of the DEA, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Pennsylvania attorney general’s office served Oliver W. Herndon with a suspension order barring him from writing prescriptions for controlled substances such as vicodin and oxycodone, said Gary Davis, the assistant special agent in charge of the DEA’s Pittsburgh office.

Herndon wasn’t arrested or charged. Davis said the agents executed a search warrant and seized boxes of documents.

“We’re working with the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania on an ongoing investigation and will present the evidence to a grand jury,” Davis said.

Herndon, 40, was featured in a Dec. 30 Bloomberg News story about hospice admissions and narcotics dispensing practices and the case of Charles Groomes, who spent almost three years on hospice under Herndon’s care. Groomes, whose family said he became addicted to high doses of narcotics, including Oxycontin, was released from Horizons Hospice LLC after 32 months. He spent the next 10 months begging other doctors and hospices to feed his drug habit, his family said. He died last August at 52.

Herndon, a graduate of Stanford Medical School, is an internist and is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine, according to his website. He is the corporate medical director of for-profit Horizons Hospice of Pittsburgh, and the medical director of four nursing homes.

Herndon can petition the DEA for a hearing to restore his prescription privileges, Davis said. In the meantime, the doctor can prescribe non-controlled substances such as antibiotics and other drugs, he said.

The answering machine at Herndon’s office said the office was closed. Herndon’s lawyer, Patrick Loughren, didn’t respond to e-mail or telephone messages seeking comment.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Peter Waldman in San Francisco at pwaldman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gary Putka at gputka@bloomberg.net

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