Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper has warned us about the dangers of pain clinics.
Last June, he was in the Miami Herald talking about the dangers of doctor shopping, where people go to numerous clinics to stockpile pills like oxycodone, Xanax, and Valium.
"It's almost impossible to monitor different people shopping doctors,'' Perper told the newspaper. "A person can get hundreds or thousands of pills.''
He went on to talk about the explosion in oxycodone-related deaths, which ballooned to 171 in Broward County in 2008, more than double the figure from 2005.
In the Sun-Sentinel, he warned of how those using the pain clinics are consuming deadly cocktails of pills.
What Perper didn't reveal was that his son, physician Zvi Harry Perper, is himself in the pain pill business. Harry Perper dispenses pain medication at a clinic on Swinton Avenue in Delray Beach called Delray Pain Management LLC. The clinic was founded in early 2009 by a convicted drug smuggler named Kenneth Murry (to read more about Murry's case and that of his father's, click here). Harry Perper is listed as a manager of the clinic.
I was unable to reach Harry Perper (the Delray clinic's phone went to a full electronic mailbox). His father said he spoke to his son, who also had a rather infamous turn as an abortionist, about his work at the pain clinic and defended the practice.
"If a physician is giving pain pills for legitimate reasons, there's nothing wrong with it -- it's part of the practice of medicine," said Perper. "When a physician is giving it out indiscriminately, it's a violation of law. [Harry] assured me that he is operating in the
proper practice of medicine, and I have no reason not to believe him. As long as he is doing this ethically and in the best interest of the patient, there is nothing wrong with it."
Harry Perper was one of a handful of pain clinic doctors singled out in recent Palm Beach Post article headlined "Rogue Group of Doctors Skirts Rules." The article -- which didn't make the connection from Harry Perper to his medical examiner father -- pointed out that Perper's clinic had been founded by a convicted drug smuggler and that he had been fined $10,000 and had to do 50 hours of community service after "the state Department of Health alleged that he botched a 2003 abortion so badly the woman had to undergo a hysterectomy."
[Full disclosure: Pain clinics advertise in New Times. As if you didn't already know that.]
-- Former Broward County Commissioner Joe Eggelletion began his 2 1/2-year prison sentence today in a federal detention center in Jesup, Georgia. He hopes to work in the prison cutting hair, his attorney Johnny McCray told the Sun-Sentinel. From the Sentinel story:
Federal prisoners are strip-searched and given a uniform after they are taken into custody. Prison staff will give Eggelletion a brief medical and psychological assessment and provide him with a copy of the rule book. He will be assigned to a bunk, likely in a dorm in the low-security section, McCray said.
At Jesup, an inmate's day begins at 6 a.m., food is basic and the uniform is khaki shirt and pants. As county commissioner, Eggelletion's salary was about $92,000, but he now has a spending limit of $290 a month in his commissary account. He can use that money to purchase candy and other items.
He will be allowed to phone 30 preapproved people, may have very restricted access to e-mail and receive limited visits.
Inmates are expected to work and earn small wages. Eggelletion will have access to a communal television set, some recreation activities and exercise equipment.
Someone asked if I was gloating since I had exposed a lot of Eggelletion's wrongdoing and may have helped lead the feds in his direction. I'm not. There's way too much work left to be done.
-- Tomorrow is the Las Olas Food and Wine Festival, which benefits the American Lung Association and for which I'm fortunate enough to have been invited to be a culinary judge. Click here to get all the information you need on the event. I've never been a culinary judge before, but I'm sure to bring a "man off the street" sensibility to the thing. I ain't no foodie, folks, but I like to eat.