Cuyahoga County

Overprescribing, lack of regulation at root of drug problem

4/4/2016 Cleveland - On one floor of the Justice Center in Cleveland, a man said he was sorry for taking his girlfriend's 8-year-old daughter out with him when he went out to buy drugs.

He took the cocaine he bought, and the girlfriend, heroin. She almost died.

Judge Robert McClelland told him "I am going to impose the 1-year sentence."

One floor above, Westlake doctor Ronald Celeste had no answers for why he wrote some 33,000 prescriptions -- large quantities of Oxycontin, Percocet, Codeine and Valium -- in a three-year period.

He was asked if he wrote all of the prescriptions he was accused of writing, but never answered.

As much as these court cases are about crime and punishment, there is a bigger story: the human cost. According to Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson, more than 60 people died of heroin overdoses in March. 

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