Doctor, 71, arrested for prescribing painkillers

11:24 AM, Apr 20, 2011   |    comments
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Homosassa, Florida - "He's a drug dealer dressed in a lab coat."

That's how the Florida Department of Law Enforcement describes Gordon Bunker, 71, who was arrested Tuesday for trafficking thousands of prescription drugs.

Bunker was supposed to have 18,000 pills at his Homosassa office, located on South Suncoast Boulevard.  But when FDLE agents showed up Tuesday morning, they found just 9,000 pills.

Authorities believe Bunker is responsible for 42,000 painkiller prescriptions since 2009 and up to 300,000 prescriptions since 2005.

It's a disturbing symptom of the prescription drug epidemic that's slammed Florida in recent years.

Tuesday, the federal government announced a new, 3-pronged plan to crack down on painkiller abuse.

It would require more than a million doctors to undergo training on proper prescription practices, a law enforcement crackdown on pain clinics dispensing drugs illegally and new requirements for pharmacies disposing of unused painkillers.

The goal is to reduce painkiller abuse by 15 percent in the next five years.

Legislators agree the need is most urgent in Florida, where doctors prescribe more oxycodone and similar drugs than all other states combined.

Many of the drugs end up in the Appalachia region and in other spots along the east coast.  In fact, in a phenomenon dubbed the "Oxycontin Express," people from those regions take buses to Florida just to get the pills.

"We are leading the state with deaths associated with prescriptions drugs," said Jim Madden, FDLE special agent-in-charge.

"It's the doctor's responsibilities.  It's the pharmacies' responsibilities.  It's law enforcement's responsibilities.  Everybody has to take ownership of this problem for us to have an impact on it."

Janie Porter, 10 News

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