In Virginia, Suboxone clinics run by Dr. Frank Hyatt and Dr. Jianyi Zhang were raided by federal agencies in 2018, and both doctors have told the media they don’t know the reason why. The raids included warrants allowing the police to take computers and patient charts, which have since been returned.
Frank Hyatt has prescribed Suboxone as a medication-assisted treatment for the past six years. He told the Northern Virginia Daily, “I can tell you one thing: we have not done anything illegal here, and it’s too late in my life to be starting a criminal enterprise. So that’s all I can say. We have not done anything illegal,” he said.
Zhang has prescribed Suboxone for about 13 years and also says he has done nothing wrong. He instead suggested that there is a flaw within the Virginia Department of Health’s Prescription Monitoring Program database that is flagging Suboxone and other medications used in Medication-Assisted Treatment as a drug of abuse, just like opioids.
“I didn’t prescribe any painkiller at all. But the database thinks that suboxone is also opiates,” he said. “They think I prescribe a lot of opiates.”
Suboxone Raids Rare But Not Uncommon
While it’s not often you hear about a Suboxone clinic raid, it’s a new trend. You will only hear about it when a subject of a raid comes forward or the federal government files criminal charges.
Last May, the home of Tennessee addiction treatment doctor Dr. Tom Reach and eight recovery centers he operates in Virginia and Tennessee were raided. The doctor told the media that the search warrant police handed him allowed agents to search for anything related to Medicaid or Medicare, banking records and medical records and anything associated with the distribution of drugs or misbranding of drugs.
Dr. Reach is also the past president of the Tennessee Society of Addiction Medicine. He helped craft the state law for Medication Assisted Treatment, and advocates for the use of it in treatment centers.
The doctor claimed that his treatment centers have never taken Medicare or Medicaid and they don’t file insurance claims, although some patients are reimbursed for their medications. His treatment center did not disburse or prescribe drugs, either.
Stuart Gitlow, a highly revered doctor in the addiction industry, was also subject to a raid last March. He holds an MD, MPH, MBA, and DFAPA. He is also the past president of the board of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).
Both doctors advocate for the use of Suboxone alongside regular addiction treatment.