published Friday, March 18th, 2011

Pain management clinic shut down

Officials in Calhoun, Ga., shut down a pain management clinic that they accuse of illegally dispensing thousands of prescription pills in eastern Gordon County.

After agents with the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency and the Georgia Composite Medical Board seized almost 200,000 pills from Advance Wellness on Curtis Parkway on Wednesday, city officials said they revoked the clinic’s business license.

No arrests have been made, but the state investigation continues, Drugs and Narcotics Agency Director Rick Allen said.

Calhoun police started investigating the clinic about two months ago after receiving complaints of people loitering in the area, including inside nearby businesses, and frightening employees, police Chief Garry Moss said.

“Business were all complaining about zombies walking into walls and scaring the ladies that worked there,” Moss said.

He said people were driving from as far away as Wisconsin and Massachusetts to see a doctor at the clinic.

“We were trying to find out if all the doctors were on strike [in those other states],” he said.

But medical board agents described the pain clinic as being similar to a pill mill, where customers travel from out of state to buy prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and Xanax.

When the state agents pulled the clinic’s records Wednesday, city officials revoked the business license, saying the clinic violated Calhoun’s nuisance ordinance, Moss said.

The business owner — who has a Florida address — has 10 days to appeal the city’s decision, said Calhoun Administrator Eddie Peterson.

The owner’s name was not available Thursday.

Clinic employees are accused of dispensing pills without a pharmaceutical license, Allen said. If the patients wanted a prescription they could take to a pharmacy, the clinic would double the charge, he said.

When agents searched the clinic Wednesday, the parking lot was full of cars from out of state, he said.

While no one in the clinic was arrested, two people in the parking lot were arrested after police found marijuana in their vehicle, Moss said.

Anthony and Aaron Jackson of Kentucky each was charged with possession of marijuana, he said.


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about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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