Exclusive 5 On Your Side Investigation uncovers local doctor under investigation

Investigation involves excessive narcotics

AKRON, Ohio - An exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation uncovers a local doctor who is under investigation for allegedly over prescribing painkillers and scores of other prescription drugs.

Dr. Adolph J. Harper, Jr. has never been disciplined by the Ohio Medical Board and has not been charged with a crime, but our investigation found that two state agencies are investigating what they call "excessive" prescribing of narcotics.

Investigators call it a "huge problem" in Ohio and say accidental overdose kills more Ohioans that car crashes. In fact, four Ohioans died every day from accidental overdose.

The narcotics being investigated are among the strongest painkillers on the market--drugs like Percocet and oxycodone. On the street, just one pill can sell for up to $80.

According to investigators with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Harper's offices were searched twice, along with a storage facility.

"The Board of Pharmacy was initially contacted by the Akron Police Department regarding the prescribing habits of Dr. Adolph Harper," said Christopher Reed, compliance and enforcement officer with the board.

The search warrants remain sealed, but our investigation obtained pharmacy records paid for with Medicaid tax dollars. The records reveal that Dr. Harper prescribed $806,000 in narcotics in just the last two years.

Ben Johnson, Deputy Director of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, said his office routinely monitors Medicaid prescriptions and said red flags began to appear regarding Harper.

"The number of prescriptions being written would be the first red flag," Johnson said.

We also found that Harper no longer has privileges as an OB-GYN at Barberton Citizens Hospital, though the hospital declined to explain why. In addition, CareSource, a company managing Ohio's Medicaid program confirmed that Harper was "terminated from the program" last month.

Patients now come to his Romig Road office in Akron that's located in a largely-vacant strip center. Our investigation found that Akron police have also been called to the location. Last October, police reports indicate a man "tried to shoot up" the office.

A former addict we spoke with said it's not unusual for addicts to seek doctors for pain killers. "Rick" is a recovered addict who says he knew addicts who have several doctors that would over-prescribe a vast amount.

For example, Connie Lantz wants the Pharmacy Board to investigate what happened to her daughter who died last month and suffered from drug addiction for years. Lantz blames a doctor for her daughter's addiction saying," She had this supply and she had to get it somewhere. And it was so easy with that Medicaid card. It's free. No problem."

The exact cause of death remain under investigation.

Harper decline to comment and his attorney says he does not expect his client to be charged with a crime. Meanwhile, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy says prescription drug abuse in Ohio is its top priority.

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