HOUSTON – The doctor at the center of a Houston Police Department undercover pill mill operation was arrested on a felony charge for allegedly prescribing narcotics without the proper licensing to do so.
Dr. Myrtle Oates, who is licensed as a gynecologist with the Texas Medical Board, was allegedly authorizing prescriptions for narcotics such as hydrocodone and carisoprodol.
Oates never held a pain-management certificate, which is required by law to operate a clinic that primarily conducts pain management.
In December, Channel 2 Investigates set up hidden cameras outside the IMED clinic off Southwest Freeway after a nearby business owner complained of the heavy amount of foot traffic in and out of the clinic throughout the morning.
"I was concerned and very frustrated," said the business owner, who asked not to be identified.
Each morning, dozens of people would line up and go in and out of the clinic.
"It wasn't the scene you'd normally see outside your doctor’s office," he said.
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According to police records, undercover officers were written prescriptions for narcotics on two separate occasions by a nurse practitioner working at the IMED clinic. The prescriptions were authorized by Dr. Oates but at no time did Oates conduct an examination of the officers.
The Houston Police Department raided the IMED clinic shortly after Channel 2 cameras began tracking activity in December.
The nurse practitioner, Althea Harris, voluntarily surrendered her DEA license that allows her to prescribe drugs.
The clinic has not been open since December.
Oates was eventually tracked to another clinic off the South Loop when tenants in that building notified law enforcement about suspicious activity at that office.
She refused to answer any question as she was escorted out by police. She is currently out on bond, and has not yet had her medical license revoked.
Althea Harris has not been arrested.