DOC IN DISPUTE WITH FEDS
The maverick doctor's
Oklahoma practice has
been investigated by the
TULSA WORLD NEWS
By Rod Walton
December 3, 2006
(ROLAND, OKLAHOMA) -- A Mississippi physician known nationally for treating poor patients and battling insurance companies is now at odds with federal regulators over writing prescriptions out of his part-time practice in eastern Oklahoma.
Dr. Ronald Myers challenged the federal Drug Enforcement Administration after pharmacies did not fill orders for his patients at the Wellness Clinic of Roland. Myers, who opened the practice earlier this year, was told that he needed a DEA registration for Oklahoma.
"I may be the only doctor in Oklahoma who has to have two DEA registrations," said Myers, noting that he is federally approved in Mississippi. "Is the DEA going to enforce this for all the doctors?
"Why are they enforcing it just for me?"
Myers also is upset that DEA agents visited his Roland clinic and allegedly were rude to him and his staff.
Myers is the founder of the American Pain Institute. He advocates prescriptive pain treatment for chronic pain sufferers and terminally ill people.
His door-to-door practice in the extremely poor Mississippi Delta region gained national attention last year when a medical provider dropped his malpractice insurance, reports show.
ABC television's "Good Morning America" featured a segment on Myers, as did national publications.
"I came to help the people," he said. "I'm a medical missionary."
In his latest battle, however, Myers sought congressional help by enlisting the office of a fellow physician, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.
A representative from Coburn's staff called the DEA and worked out a deal in which Myers will receive an emergency DEA registration, Coburn spokesman Aaron Cooper said.
Myers said he filed for the second DEA approval under protest.
"I wanted to make sure my patients were not left out in the cold," he said. "Now they say they're going to rush my DEA registration through."
Edward Childress, a DEA official from the agency's Tulsa office, said Myers filed a grievance after his prescriptions were denied at pharmacies. Although he would not discuss the specifics of Myers' case, Childress said the DEA requires state-by-state registration for all physicians who write prescriptions.
"It's fair to say that it was brought to our attention that a physician was writing prescriptions for controlled substances who did not have a DEA registration for the state of Oklahoma," he said.
Federal officials would not comment on specifics of the DEA's visit to Myers' office.
Myers, meanwhile, argued that time is crucial for his patients. Many are terminally ill and cannot manage the pain they deal with on a daily basis, he said.
The emergency registration might allow his prescriptions to be honored within days instead of the usual four to six weeks, reports show.
"Some of our patients are going into withdrawal," Myers said.
The DEA rules for state-by-state registration should apply only if he manufactured, stored, dispensed or administered the controlled substances, he said.
The DEA would not comment further.
Myers, who has family connections to Oklahoma, also operates a practice in Fort Smith, Ark., he said. Calls to Fort Smith pharmacies, which have previously filled some his prescriptions, were not returned.