Medical license for Efland doctor revoked following federal drug conviction

The state has revoked the medical license for a doctor who lives on the outskirts of Mebane – on the Orange County side of the city, in Efland – after he pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony drug crime, “interstate travel in the aid of a racketeering enterprise,” by illegally prescribing opioid painkillers.

Roswell Tempest Lowry, 85, of 3280 Olivia Pope Way in Efland, admitted to federal investigators that he had traveled from North Carolina to Charleston, West Virginia, where he illegally prescribed opioid painkillers to patients “without a legitimate medical purpose.”

The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) indefinitely suspended Lowry’s medical license late last month, following his conviction in a federal district court in West Virginia earlier this year. He has waived his right to a hearing before the NCMB. The state board had originally issued an automatic revocation of his medical license this summer, pending a request for a hearing.

During the federal investigation, Lowry also admitted he had been recruited in 2014 by a “head-hunter” to work for a pain management clinic, in Charleston, West Virginia, “despite having no experience in pain management,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the southern district of West Virginia.

Lowry acknowledged during the investigation that, soon after he started working for the clinic, he realized “customers” weren’t being properly evaluated prior to receiving prescriptions for opioids; most patients’ files had “little relevant medical information”; and most “customers paid in cash and many traveled form out of state to the HOPE Clinic,” where he dispensed prescriptions for Schedule II narcotics, which included Oxycodone and Percocet, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The HOPE Clinic operated pain management clinics – which have been identified as “pill mills” that are alleged to have distributed hundreds of thousands of doses of prescription medication – in Charleston, Beckley and Beaver, West Virginia; and in Wytheville, Virginia, according to several personal injury law firms in West Virginia seeking clients who have had family members die from an overdose on opioids that were prescribed at clinics believed to have violated patient safety regulations.

A federal investigation into the HOPE Clinic’s operations has subsequently led to convictions of numerous doctors, including the 85-year-old Lowry, based on numerous news reports that have been recently published in West Virginia.

The Tennessee Department of Health had previously disciplined Lowry, in December 2008, for practicing medicine with a license that had been issued by another state (North Carolina). A notice issued by the Tennessee Department of Health in 2008 stated that he would be fined and would not be eligible to practice in that state at a later date.

Lowry faces up to five years in federal prison for his conviction, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The NCMB is responsible for licensing and monitoring doctors in North Carolina.