A Fort Smith-area doctor involved in a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into local opioid overprescribing had his license suspended Monday.
Members of the Arkansas Medical Board on Monday evening served Dr. Donald Eugene Hinderliter of Hinderliter Pain Clinic in Barling with an emergency order of suspension of his license. Hinderliter and Dr. Cecil Walter Gaby, who over two years allegedly prescribed nearly 2 million pills including opioid painkillers to hundreds of patients from all over Arkansas, are part of an active DEA investigation into their prescribing habits.
Board members served Hinderliter with his emergency suspension three months after they served Gaby with his. DEA officials were present at meetings involving his emergency suspension, said Dr. Don Phillips of Mercy Hospital Fort Smith and the Medical Board.
"It's sad to see people who had a talent do something this wrong," Phillips said.
Hinderliter from July 2016 to July 2018 allegedly prescribed 832,994 pills to 462 patients. He averaged 1,803 pills per patient, according to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program data.
Sixty percent, or 261, of Hinderliter's patients over the two years had a criminal history, including 29 percent, or 127, with past drug charges, according to Monitoring Program data.
Multiple patients during the investigation told officials Hinderliter prescribed them more than 100 oxycodone pills on a monthly basis. Officers who conducted surveillance on Hinderliter's and Gaby's clinics indexed vehicles with addresses including from Waldron, Subiaco, Russellville, Dardanelle, Charleston, Paris, Fayetteville, North Little Rock, Booneville and Hot Springs, according to the probable cause affidavit.
A handful of Arkansas and Oklahoma patients died between 2016 and 2017 with prescription drugs from Hinderliter and Gaby in their systems, "oftentimes within days" of being prescribed, the affidavit states.
Western District of Arkansas officials on Tuesday had not formally filed charges against Hinderliter or Gaby in connection with their prescribing habits. Western District U.S. Attorney's Public Information Officer Charlie Robbins declined to comment Tuesday on the DEA investigation.
Though Gaby's license was suspended in November, he has not formally answered to the suspension. His next chance to formally answer will be April 6-7 at the next Medical Board meeting, Phillips said.
Though DEA officials have been present at Medical Board meetings concerning Hinderliter and Gaby, the board's license actions are independent of their investigation, Phillips said.