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Federal court orders local clinic to close after alleged illegal opioid distribution

Doctor and clinic owners to pay $600,000 in penalties
Opioid painkillers pills oxycontin oxycodone Getty 032316
Posted at 3:55 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 06:35:12-04

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday a Tampa area pain management clinic and physician are ordered to pay $600,000 in civil penalties after alleged illegal opioid distribution violated the Controlled Substances Act.

In a complaint filed in February 2021, the United States alleged Dr. Tobias Bacaner wrote prescriptions for opioids without legitimate medical purpose while employed at Paragon Community Healthcare, a pain clinic in New Port Richey.

The complaint alleged Paragon's owners, Theodore Ferguson II and Timothy Ferguson, managed the clinic's operations and profited from the unlawful prescribing while ignoring signs of drug abuse. The complaint also alleged that Dr. Bacaner and the Fergusons used their jointly owned pharmacy, Cobalt Pharmacy, to fill prescriptions they issued without scrutiny.

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According to the report from the Justice Department, the order against Dr. Bacaner requires him to pay $500,000 in civil penalties and prohibits him from prescribing, administering, dispensing or distributing controlled substances.

The Justice Department order against the Fergusons and Paragon requires them to pay $100,000 in civil penalties and permanently close their clinic. The order also places restrictions on the Fergusons' ability to own or work at places that administer, dispense or distribute controlled substances in the future.

“Dr. Bacaner and his associates profited from unlawfully prescribing opioids without a legitimate medical purpose,” said U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Roger B. Handberg. “We will continue to protect the community from those who place a higher value on profit than the safety of the public.”

The Justice Department said the Fergusons also agreed to permanently dissolve Cobalt Pharmacy, which closed shortly before the suit was filed.