‘During the worst year of the HIV/AIDS crisis, 43,000 Americans lost their lives to the virus. In 2015, 52,000 died of a drug overdose. Never in recorded history had narcotics killed so many Americans in a single year; the drug-induced death toll was so staggering, it helped reduce life expectancy in the United States for the first time since 1993.’

West Virginia has been the hardest hit.

The proximate responsibility for this grotesque overprescription of opioid painkillers lies with West Virginia’s doctors. But no conscientious wholesaler could look at how many painkillers they were shipping to low-population areas of the state — and at how many people were dying from overdoses in those areas — and not realize that they were enabling a deadly epidemic.

Bernie’s calling for an investigation.

But it’s good. It’s all good. The worst of the wholesalers – McKesson – has a CEO who sits on the distinguished board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, shaping the political thinking of America’s best and brightest. The same man will soon be lecturing us on health care policy. Arizona State University has bestowed its Executive of the Year award on him.

All of this cuz, you know, he made sooooooo much money.

What’s his corporation’s secret? Here ’tis:

[Y]ou can make a lot of money selling dope to addicts.


Yes, sadly, addicts die. You just advertise for more.

A message from John H. Hammergren, one of our trustees here at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Wyoming, McDowell, and Boone, and Mingo:
These four no-count hollers all add up to… BINGO!
Get set for a lesson
From Mr McKesson
America’s greediest chairman, by jingo.

To ship oodles and oodles of Oxy
To the poor and defenseless takes moxie.
While they die addicted
From what I’ve inflicted
I’m hoarding my bucks from the proxies.

Let’s toast West Virgina, my friends!
Let’s toast my obscene dividends!
And thank-you to the villagers
From our “most rapacious pillager”
Your trustee, John H. Hammergren.


[UD thanks Dirk.]

“[Whitney] Howard’s criminal history includes arrests in June and August on suspicion of driving under the influence, both being drug-related.”

On the road again! UD trusts the courts of Athens Georgia will once again very quickly put Whitney Howard behind the wheel. So far she’s only killed one person, whereas it’s obvious she’s got the potential to produce far more carnage than that.

Oh no. What’ll I do now…

… with the joke I’ve been holding on to about joint appointments?

“What disturbed me most about Huguely’s trial and conviction was the fact that he, and much of the commentary surrounding the case, was divorced from the social environment in which the crime was committed.”

This post, by a recent University of Virginia graduate, is the best reflection on convicted murderer George Huguely I’ve so far seen. He captures the upper-crust/crapulous, gracious living/coked to the gills thing at the heart of many elite prep schools and colleges.

[A]mong athletes, lacrosse players are among the biggest partiers, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report published this year looking at substance use among college athletes.

… The survey found that male and female lacrosse players are more likely than any other kind of athlete to take amphetamines like Adderall, which many at U. Va., including Love, were prescribed for attention deficit disorder. And roughly 95 percent of the country’s male lacrosse players drank, the study claimed. Among women players, 85 percent consumed alcohol.

Two years ago, in the immediate wake of the crime, another college lacrosse player wrote well about his culture:

Aggression and alcohol abuse, of course, are hardly the province of lacrosse alone when it comes to men’s college athletics. But, when it comes alongside lacrosse, there’s an implied element of absolute indifference and arrogance as well.

He recalled something the lacrosse coach at Virginia said in a 1999 interview, long before his player Huguely murdered:

“Alcohol and lacrosse have gone hand-in-hand since my days at Brown [University] in the 1970s,” Starsia told The Washington Post… “Whether it is post-game celebrations or just in general, there was something about the sport and alcohol…”


People don’t like being called arrogant and indifferent. Look at the comment thread on this Washingtonian piece.

Not the first bunch of comments; scroll down to the last five or six. These are enraged, indignant Huguely insiders insisting they did do things. They were not indifferent; they are not responsible. But as Anthony Schneck notes:

Although [the Huguely] story made national headlines in part because it seemed so shocking and unusual, the culture that allowed it to happen is not exceptional to UVA; it’s easy to protect the already privileged…

Easy; and far easier now than it was when The Great Gatsby, this culture’s iconic text (it features golf rather than lacrosse), was written. In Fitzgerald’s novel, Daisy Buchanan is protected after she kills a woman. Today’s Buchanans are vastly more Hummered up.

“It’s unusual to say the least…”

… says the sheriff. He doesn’t expect a professor to be a fugitive from justice because of his just-discovered big-time meth distribution business. Professors don’t have weapons caches, body armor, and huge wads of cash in their houses. Professors aren’t presidents of bikers clubs.

Pshaw. Do you read this blog? Over its lifetime UD has covered stories of professors who had live bombs in their houses; professors who on the first day of class told students to write down their Social Security numbers and hand them forward. So that the professors could rob them.

As for drug use: University Diaries has covered stories of professors so disabled by cocaine or alcohol while lecturing that students had to escort them to the emergency room.


Yes, universities tend to produce more white than blue collar criminals — The insider trader on the board of trustees is fast becoming a paradigmatic postmodern American university figure … There’s Friend-of-Donna, Nevin Shapiro. Yeshiva University couldn’t honor Ezra Merkin and Bernard Madoff enough until that dark night when it had to go through all its web pages and erase their names and pretend they never existed…

You can certainly expect more faculty members to steal from their grants than to distribute drugs. But the drug distributors are out there.


One point about this particular guy. Starting last year, if Cal State had bothered to look, it would have discovered he routinely came to class late and rambled and was beginning to piss off students.

Is Joseph Castronuovo an assistant professor of medicine at NYU?

It’s hard to say. This directory page is the best I can do, and it might not be the same guy. But a news article about him says he’s an “assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine.”

As you probably know, medical schools are notorious for handing out the title “professor” to pretty about anyone who hangs around the hospital wearing a white coat. This courtesy isn’t a very good idea, especially at a time when doctors are being arrested for running pill mills all over the country (especially in Florida). Castronuovo faces ten years in prison for writing oxy prescriptions like a bat out of hell.

Anti-crime measures are becoming…

… part of the curriculum at pharmacology schools:

Budding pharmacists are taught in school to look for signs of pain pill abuse. They know they deal with a lot more criminals than pharmacists 10 or 20 years ago.

“It definitely is addressed more than it used to be,” said 29-year-old Vanita Spagnolo, a second-year University of Florida School of Pharmacology student who works in retail and hospital pharmacies.

Full many a flower is born to blush unseen …

… and Greenway University, begun with such promise, is one of those flowers.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of all-things-doobie Oaksterdam, Greenway opened in Denver only to close, rapidly, after state officials perused its application documents.

When asked, “Has any principal owner(s), officer(s), or any person in a management capacity: Ever been convicted of or pled to a felony or are charges pending?” [Gus] Escamilla answered, “No.”

… 7NEWS obtained court documents from California, where in 2000, Escamilla pled guilty to felony grand theft by embezzlement.

“We were aware of the prior conviction, but we also were under the impression that they were expunged,” said Escamilla. [Excellent use of the royal/papal/Ubu “we.”]

… Marc Kent was listed as a chancellor at Greenway, but the application did not disclose the fact that Kent plead guilty to mail fraud in federal court.

“It wasn’t an accidental thing for him to (study) pharmacy.”

No. It wasn’t. A heroin addict about to graduate from pharmacy school at Oregon State University has been arrested for dealing.

Drugs fuck up a lot of people, but not this guy. Although addicted, he was a terrific, stand-out senior, ready to put on a white coat and play Mr. Roxicet’s Neighborhood.

UD has written before on this blog about medical and pharmacy and nursing students who get these degrees for the express purpose of giving their distribution business legitimacy. Obviously there’s little a university can do by way of screening for these people… but I’m reminded of something Russell Brand said in an essay he wrote about his friend Amy Winehouse:

All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they’re not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but unignorable veil. Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50p for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his speedboat, there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they’re looking through you to somewhere else they’d rather be. And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief.

I’ve seen the toxic air of elsewhere plenty of times among people I know. Also, sometimes, among students. I’m as guilty as anyone of ignoring it, deciding it means something besides addiction, or just allowing myself to be pointlessly annoyed by it.

But university programs graduating people who will have access to lots of drugs have much larger detection problems.

You know now that pharmacies are dangerous places.

Hospitals are also notorious sources of oxycodone. This blog has written about hospital personnel – medical students, nurses, doctors, other employees – who steal the stuff. The latest story involves a Staten Island oxycodone ring.

One of the suspects, Angelique Sestito … works as a nurse at Richmond University Medical Center, West Brighton, though it’s not clear if she used her position to obtain drugs, the sources said.



One of this blog’s 2011 activities…

… will be tracing the infiltration of the prescription drug trade into American medical schools. We’ll follow stories about pill mills housed inside universities. We’ll note increasing numbers of people going to medical school, and choosing anesthesiology and related fields, with the express purpose of being able to write prescriptions for millions of opioids and other drugs.

A hospital affiliated with Cornell and Columbia has recently removed an anesthesiologist drug dealer from its staff of physicians (he worked with other doctors there in the business). He prescribed pills for his girlfriend, who then sold them, mainly online.

His girlfriend is a medical student. Get the picture?

It’ll become clearer (“[I]n a growing number of states, deaths from prescription drugs now exceed those from motor vehicle accidents.”) in the next few months.

As we begin the new year …

… those of us with an interest in universities should keep this important development in mind:

It used to be that clinical trials [of new prescription drugs] were done mostly by academic researchers in universities and teaching hospitals, a system that, however imperfect, generally entailed certain minimum standards. The free market has changed all that. Today it is mainly independent contractors who recruit potential patients both in the U.S. and—increasingly—overseas. They devise the rules for the clinical trials, conduct the trials themselves, prepare reports on the results, ghostwrite technical articles for medical journals, and create promotional campaigns.

Two writers for Vanity Fair note the vanishing relevance of the university in the field of pharmaceutical trials, and the advent of the wild, wild west, east, north and south.

In theory, a federal institutional review board is supposed to assess every clinical trial, with special concern for the welfare of the human subjects, but this work … has now been outsourced to private companies and is often useless. In 2009 the Government Accountability Office conducted a sting operation, winning approval for a clinical trial involving human subjects; the institutional review board failed to discover (if it even tried) that it was dealing with “a bogus company with falsified credentials” and a fake medical device. This was in Los Angeles. If that is oversight in the U.S., imagine what it’s like in Kazakhstan or Uganda. Susan Reverby, the Wellesley historian who uncovered the U.S. government’s syphilis experiments in Guatemala during the 1940s, was asked in a recent interview to cite any ongoing experimental practices that gave her pause. “Frankly,” she said, “I am mostly worried about the drug trials that get done elsewhere now, which we have little control over.

Anecdotally, UD knows that prescription drug addiction – among family, friends, friends of friends, children of friends – has gone absolutely haywire. The statistics say the same thing. It’s hideous to anticipate an escalation of this trend.


And don’t forget.

Competitive With Hopkins

A Los Angeles physician who investigators call the second most prolific provider of prescription drugs in the country has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Sixty-eight-year-old Carlos Estiandan was sentenced Wednesday.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says Estiandan was second only to Johns Hopkins University in the total number of prescriptions written in 2008…

When it comes to squandering your school’s reputation…

… and of course its money, nobody does it like the University of Kentucky.

Having just given John Calipari over thirty million dollars to coach one of its teams for a few years, Kentucky must now deal with his predecessor’s lawsuit against it for six million.

Kentucky’s adminstration smokes too much bluegrass. UD has nothing against a toke or three, but when you’re running a university, you need to be able to think clearly. UK is into that thing where you don’t care about anything anymore.


Update on Kentucky’s thirty million dollar man here.

UD fears this news will only drive UK’s administrators into deeper drug dependency.

Meanwhile, she wrote a little ditty!

isn’t vari

When there’s quarri
he ain’t sorri.
Chase them in his

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