NY cardiologist charged in national opioid prescription scandal

A cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y., is one of 60 that’s been charged in an illegal prescription opioid scandal that spans the U.S.

Andrew Rudin, MD, who’s worked for St. Joseph’s and Oswego Health in their cardiology departments, was arrested and charged alongside two others for crimes allegedly committed in Tennessee, according to the U.S. Attorney General’s Office. He and another doctor, Alexander Alperovich, MD, have been accused of accepting cash to look the other way as Jeffrey W. Young Jr., a nurse practitioner, prescribed opioids and other drugs to friends, family and patients who didn’t have a medical need for them.

The medical professionals were named in a singular indictment, which charged all three with one count of conspiracy to distribute and dispense controlled substances; six counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances to a pregnant woman; seven counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances; and one count of maintaining a drug-involved premise and aiding and abetting.

According to the indictment, Rudin allowed Young to list him as a supervising physician at Preventagenix LLC, where Young worked as the Jackson, Tenn., company’s operator and partial owner. Both Rudin and Alperovich reportedly consented to Young listing them as supervisors, giving Preventagenix “the appearance of legitimacy.”

Young, who called himself the “Rock Doc” as a reference to his “rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle, promoted Preventagenix with the motto “work hard, play harder.” He allegedly leveraged illegal prescriptions to attain status, sex and money, using that power to promote a podcast and television pilot about his practice.

The indictment states Young treated patients while intoxicated, whether that was with alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. He was also reportedly known to prescribe the “Holy Trinity”—a combination of opioids (usually oxycodone), benzodiazepines (usually alprazolam) and the muscle relaxer carisoprodol—under Rudin and Alperovich’s supervision.

In one case, Young allegedly prescribed oxycodone and hydrocodone to a pregnant woman six times between March 5, 2015 and July 17, 2015. Her baby was born with fetal abstinence syndrome, addicted to opioids.

Rudin has appeared in federal court in Syracuse and is awaiting court in the Western District of Tennessee. In a statement to Syracuse.com, St. Joseph’s chief medical officer Joseph Spinale said Rudin’s charges were unrelated to his work at the hospital, where Rudin had started working in January 2019. He said Rudin has been placed on administrative leave and that the hospital has arranged for other professionals to care for Rudin’s existing patients.