Allegheny County Doctor Charged With Prescribing Prescription Drugs to "Patients" He Never Examined

Internet scheme stretched across Pennsylvania

Tom Corbett News Release

HARRISBURG – An Allegheny County doctor who distributed prescription drugs to “patients” that he never physically examined was arrested today by state narcotics agents.

Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendant as Charles McCool, 64, 3609 Ashland Dr., Bethel Park, Allegheny County. Dr. McCool has been licensed to practice medicine for 40 years.

Starting in 2003, McCool began working for Internet companies that contract with doctors who provide telephone consultations to provide customers seeking prescription medication.

Corbett said that the investigation began after a suspicious pharmacist in Catasauqua, Lehigh County, questioned a prescription that had been called in to the pharmacy’s answering machine on a Sunday night, by a physician from Allegheny County.

“The abuse of powerful prescription medications is a growing national concern and Internet services like these can make it extremely easy for people across the country to ‘doctor shop’ in order to get the prescription narcotics they need to feed addictions,” Corbett said.

Evidence and testimony regarding the case was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.

According to the grand jury, Dr. McCool prescribed prescription narcotics to at least five patients he met through the Internet despite having never given them a physical examination. These patients were from counties across Pennsylvania including; Allegheny, Beaver, Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe.

The grand jury found that in one case Dr. McCool interviewed a “patient” over the phone and asked about symptoms and current prescriptions that were being taken.  Dr. McCool allegedly had only two telephone conversations with the patient, lasting less than 10 minutes each.

Corbett said that the patient sent $185 per phone conversation in the form of money orders to the Internet company.  Once the money was received, Dr. McCool allegedly issued multiple prescriptions, with refills, authorizing approximately six months worth of drugs.

According to the grand jury, Dr. McCool never told the patient what medical condition the drugs were being prescribed to treat, never met with the patient in person and never obtained updated medical records.

Dr. McCool is charged with one count of unlawfully administering/dispensing/delivery of a controlled substance by a practitioner unless done in good faith in the course of his professional practice or within the scope of the patient relationship.

He was preliminarily arraigned before Allentown Magisterial District Judge Carl Balliet and released on $50,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 8, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.

The case will be prosecuted in Lehigh County by Deputy Attorney General Robert Rosner of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section.

(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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