Hollywood Doc Drug Bust Reveals Ways to Adderall, other Drugs

Federal drug agents arrested Hollywood psychiatrist Dr. Nathan Kuemmerle on April 14th for his involvement in a “pill mill”, which the doctor used to write daily prescriptions of Oxycotin, Adderall and Xanax. The operation reveals the ethical fallibility of gatekeepers charged with dispersing these powerful, and potentially dangerous, cognitive enhancing drugs.

Kuemmerle was the top prescriber of high-dosage Adderall in the state of California last year. He frequently prescribed drugs without conducting medical examination, often in exchange for money. His operation crumbled when the authorities arrested someone trying to sell Kuemmerle-prescribed Adderall on Craigslist.

Along with the recent arrest of five Utah residents for their role in an online pharmacy illegally selling prescription drugs originating from Mexico, this incident illustrates the growing demand for prescription drugs and the variety of avenues available for those who seek them out.

An article published in The New Yorker described how a former Harvard student, known simply as Alex, used knowledge of his brother’s ADHD symptoms to procure a prescription for Adderall. He even persuaded his doctor to increase the dosage when the semester workload increased.

CNN reported on the difficulties doctors face when issuing prescriptions. They are forced to make instant judgment calls stemming from an urge to help people who may be in legitimate need. Patients who present memorized symptoms and incorrect background information frequently exploit doctors in a rush to provide care. This tactic is often used to obtain numerous prescriptions for drugs they might otherwise have been denied.

Student Health Center pharmacist Gregg Wendland said it is “probably pretty frequent” for University of Oregon students to falsify ADHD symptoms in order to obtain an Adderall prescription. “A lot of people look at is a way to give themselves an edge in their academic career,” said Wendland, “and I’m sure the information is available on the Internet for exactly what the diagnostic criteria are for ADHD.”

The Health Center has a set of checks and balances to curb the sale of prescribed drugs, such as requiring students to sign a controlled substance contract stating that the prescription is for personal use. Wendland suspects, however, that in the non-academic sector it would be easier to obtain Adderall under false pretenses.

Either through falsifying symptoms, buying from a corrupt doctor or ordering from an online pharmacy, students seeking prescriptions have a number of options. As the drug becomes more accessible, the temptation for students to abuse Adderall could grow. Almost more frightening than the increasing availability of Adderall is the potential future where the use of cognitive enhancers becomes mandatory to remain competitive.

Works Cited:

LA Times: West Hollywood doctor accused of running ‘pill mill’

Desert News: New charges against 5 Utahns indicted in online pharmacy scheme

Hartford Courant: Online Pharmacies Tempting, But Beware

CNN.com: How physicians try to prevent ‘doctor shopping’

The New Yorker: Brain Gain

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5 Responses to Hollywood Doc Drug Bust Reveals Ways to Adderall, other Drugs

  1. Rachel says:

    My sister was seeing this doctor after having severe panic attacks. He prescribed her Xanax right out of the gate AND kept pushing for her to take Adderoll. He NEVER told her that she needed to ween herself off of the Xanax so when she realized the medication wasn’t for her, she quit abruptly and had a massive seizure. She was taken to the hospital via ambulance where they told her she should have slowly gone off that medication over a period of 3 months. This doctor was negligent on so many levels.

  2. amanda says:

    NO they don’t have a number of options. Adderall is NOT available at online foreign pharmacies (which are the pharmacies illegally selling) because Adderall is manufactured solely in the US. It is only legal in the US and Canada.

    Adderall is highly regulated and very hard to find in comparison to most other drugs. I’m in college and am a member of a couple message boards where people discuss drugs…. when it comes to Adderall, all I hear is how hard it is find. I can only think of like five people I’ve known with a prescription over the past five years.

    • True, the on-line pharmacy didn’t sell Adderall, but they did sell Ritalin, which has similar effects and is used as a study aid. Adderall is just a brand name for a type of amphetamine. It is one of several drugs that do the same thing, such as Dexedrine and Ritalin.

      Also, as far as Adderall being hard to find, that might be true where you live, but it’s not the case in many places. Check out Alan DeSantis’ research about Adderall use at the University of Kentucky. Of the students he surveyed, 75% knew someone who took Adderall without a prescription. I know people who have falsified ADHD symptoms to get the drug. We talked to several of those people while making this blog. The college pharmacist interviewed for this post told me he hears his pharm tech talk about the prevalence of this issue all the time.

      Where do you go to school? You might want to do a little more research beyond your area before you make blanket statements about the drug’s demand and availability. The raising rate of Adderall use on college campuses is well documented. Check out some of the other posts on this site and read the links. It’s all there.

      And, this is just a guess, but I doubt people are going to go on college message boards and try to sell Adderall or brag about how easy it is to find. Just a thought.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  3. amanda says:

    The pharmacy in Mexico you listed did not sell Adderall, and any foreign pharmacy that says they are selling Adderall is scamming people or sending fake medications.

    There will always be drugs around that people will abuse. That’s the trade-off for having drugs that help people who do need them.

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