Patients at Dr. Gilberto Sanchez’s Montgomery, Alabama, family practice lined the walls of the waiting room and sat on the floor when no seating was available just for the opportunity to see the doctor. Acting U.S. Attorney A. Clark Morris says patients were flocking to Dr. Sanchez’s office because he was running a pill mill out of the clinic, doling out prescriptions for controlled substances, mainly opioids, inappropriately, unlawfully and for non-medical reasons.
“It was, obviously, a doctor who was overprescribing or prescribing drugs that were not medically necessary,” Morris told WSFA-TV. Last week, Sanchez was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of drug distribution.
Earlier this week, a search warrant was served at his practice as well as his personal home in Cecil. If convicted, the doctor faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count, as well as substantial monetary penalties and restitution.
Sanchez’s arrest comes just as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the formation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, designed to focus specifically on investigating and prosecuting opioid-related health care fraud, including pill mill schemes and pharmacies that unlawfully divert or dispense prescription opioids for illegitimate purposes. The Northern District of Alabama is one of 12 districts that is participating in the three-year U.S. Department of Justice pilot project.
Sanchez’s medical license was suspended for six months in 2010. Court documents say that from August 2008 and January 2009, he and/or physicians under his direction left signed, blank forms at his clinics in the Alabama cities of Troy, Dothan, Andalusia and Ozark. The forms were used to dispense medication to patients.
Department of Justice