“The Notorious Pill Mill:” Just One Doctor Wrote 335,000 Painkiller Prescriptions in West Virginia

Corky Siemaszko

From December 2002 to January 2010, more than 335,130 prescriptions for painkillers were issued under the name of Dr. Katherine Hoover at the West Virginia clinic where she worked — a rate of about 130 per day, assuming she worked seven days a week.

Another doctor who worked with her in the Mountain Medical Care Center, in tiny Williamson, West Virginia, was charged with selling prescriptions to people he never examined, and the office manager was arrested as well. The clinic was closed. But Hoover was not prosecuted and headed to the Bahamas while her colleagues faced prison.

In her first extended interviews since then, Hoover — whose name was invoked as a symbol of the deadly opioid crisis at a recent congressional hearing — told NBC News there is a very simple reason why the government did not throw the book at her.

“I was never charged or ever investigated because I didn’t commit any crimes,” Hoover said by telephone. “I prescribed narcotics to people in pain. I did everything I could to help people have a better life, which I told the FBI.”

“Every prescription I wrote was justified for the person who had gotten it,” she added.

Hoover, 68, wrote more opioid prescriptions than any other doctor in West Virginia from 2002 to 2010, government investigators said in court documents. As of 2016, West Virginia has the nation’s highest rate of fatal drug overdoses due to opioids.

Categories Health People Society

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