Self-Described 'Assassin,' Now Doctor, Indicted for 1M Illegal Opioid Doses

Aine Cryts

August 30, 2021

A Louisiana physician, who refers to himself as a "former assassin," was indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in distributing more than 1.2 million doses of Schedule II controlled substances outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ). The substances include oxycodone and morphine.

Adrian Dexter Talbot, MD, 55, of Slidell, Louisiana, is also charged with maintaining a medical clinic for the purpose of illegally distributing controlled substances, per the indictment.

Because the opioid prescriptions were filled using beneficiaries' health insurance, Talbot is also charged with defrauding Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana of more than $5.1 million.

When contacted by Medscape Medical News for comment on the case via Twitter, Talbot or a representative responded with a link to his self-published book on Amazon. In his author bio, Talbot refers to himself as "a former assassin," "retired military commander," and "leader of the Medellin Cartel's New York operations at the age of 16." The Medellin Cartel is a notorious drug distribution empire.

Talbot is listed as the author of another book on Google Books detailing his time as a "former teenage assassin" and leader of the cartel, told as he struggles with early onset Alzheimer's.

Talbot Could Spend Decades in Prison

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 444 residents of the Bayou State lost their lives due to an opioid-related drug overdose in 2018. During that year, the state's healthcare providers wrote more than 79.4 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, which puts the state in the top five in the United States in 2018, when the average US rate was 51.4 prescriptions per 100 persons.

Charged with one count each of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances and maintaining drug-involved premises and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, Talbot is also charged with four counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances. He is scheduled for a federal court appearance on September 10.

In addition to pre-signing prescriptions for individuals he didn't meet or examine, federal officials allege Talbot hired another healthcare provider to similarly pre-sign prescriptions for people who weren't examined at a medical practice in Slidell, where Talbot was employed. The DOJ says Talbot took a full-time job in Pineville, Louisiana, and pre-signed prescriptions while no longer physically present at the Slidell clinic.

A speaker's bio for Talbot indicates he worked as chief of medical services for the Alexandria VA Health Care System in Pineville.

According to the DOJ's indictment, Talbot was aware that patients were filling the prescriptions that were provided outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose. This is what triggered the DOJ's fraudulent billing claim. 

Talbot faces a maximum penalty of 10 years for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and 20 years each for the other counts, if convicted.
 

Talbot Was Candidate for Local Coroner

In February 2015, Talbot announced his candidacy for coroner for St. Tammany Parish, about an hour's drive south of New Orleans, reported The Times Picayune. The seat was open because the previous coroner had resigned and ultimately pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge.

The Times Picayune reported at the time that Talbot was a US Navy veteran, in addition to serving as medical director and a primary care physician at the Medical Care Center in Slidell. Among the services provided to his patients were evaluations and treatment for substance use and mental health disorders, according to a press release issued by Talbot's campaign, reported The Times.

Talbot's medical license was issued in 1999 and inactive as of 2017, per the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.

Louisiana Expects $325M in Multistate Settlement With Opioid Companies

Louisiana is a party to a multistate and multijurisdictional lawsuit where the state is expected to receive more than $325 million in a settlement reached with drug distributors Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, and drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, reported The Louisiana Illuminator in July. The total settlement may reach $26 billion dollars.

The Associated Press reported in July that there have been at least $40 billion in completed or proposed settlements, penalties, and fines between governments as a result of the opioid epidemic since 2007.

That total doesn't include a proposed settlement involving members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which manufactured and marketed the opioid painkiller OxyContin. The Sackler family have agreed to pay approximately $4.3 billion and surrender ownership of their bankrupt company, reported NPR. The family's proposed settlement is part of a deal involving Purdue Pharmaceuticals worth more than $10 billion, reported Reuters.

In 2020, there were more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths, the highest number recorded in a 12-month period, per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fentanyl, an illicitly manufactured synthetic opioid, was the lead driver of those deaths.
 

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