The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are cracking down on medical professionals writing prescriptions for illegal use.
MBN and the DEA in Tupelo announced the arrests of two family nurse practitioners and two physicians acting outside the scope of their medical practices on Wednesday.
Brenda Shelton, 54, of Ripley and Amanda Jones, 35, of Starkville, were both arrested. Shelton was charged with prescription fraud, Jones charged for writing prescriptions in the name of a family member for Adderall.
Agents said Shelton was prescribing controlled substances without a valid DEA license or her advanced practice registered nurse license. She surrendered both of them in 2014.
“We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic where prescribing practices of people in the medical field has created part of the problem. Now, I’m not blaming doctors and nurses as a whole, you have those that want to do things different than others. The point I want to make is that it has to stop,” said MBN Director John Dowdy.
Also arrested in affiliation with the operation was Dr. William Bell, 49 of Tupelo, and Dr. Dwalia South, 62 of Ripley. Bell was accused of prescribing controlled pharmaceutical drugs this month. He was writing scripts of Adderall and Clonazepam for friends and family.
In 2016 MBN arrested 37 people that were involved in pharmaceutical diversion.
“Subscribes in the state of Mississippi need to understand we are serious about the opioid epidemic that we have and we are coming,” said Dowdy. “You don’t want MBN and you don’t want DEA knocking on your door.”
“It’s not necessarily about putting people in prison, we aren’t going to just arrest our way out of this situation but we have to get the attention of the healthcare professionals that are involved in this,” said Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher.
Dowdy said this problem is widespread across the state and that no community in the state is immune to it. The opioid epidemic is affecting all socio-economic groups, it seems to know no limits.
In March 2017 the MBN averaged a drug overdose death every other day.
Charges have not yet been filed against any of the people involved, but the DEA and MBN are still conducting their investigation.
Announcement video below: