News Story


Prescription Drug Database Inquiry Leads to Doctor Shopping Arrest
1/13/2016 4:44:00 PM


Nature of Incident:

Prescription Drug Database Inquiry Leads to Doctor Shopping Arrest

Report Number:



5900 block of Imperial Highway, South Gate, CA

Date & Time:

January 13, 2016

Unit(s) Responsible:

Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit

Ventura Police Department


(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (P)arty, (D)ecedent

City of Residence


(S) Francesca Thompson

South Gate




Background: Doctor Shopping is the criminal act of visiting multiple physicians to obtain controlled substances while misrepresenting an illness or injury or by omitting material facts when asked by a physician about previous doctor visits and prescriptions.  The State of California maintains a prescription drug monitoring database known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES). CURES is available to physicians, pharmacists, and law enforcement and tracks all controlled substance prescriptions dispensed to patients.  Physicians are required to register for CURES access by July 1, 2016.  


Investigation: At the end of 2015, an alert Oxnard pharmacist contacted the Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit with a report of a patient whom he suspected was Doctor Shopping.  The Oxnard pharmacist told investigators he denied a prescription for Francesca Thompson for hydromorphone (Dilaudid) after he checked her CURES history and noticed she had visited dozens of doctors in the recent past and obtained thousands of pills of hydromorphone.  Hydromorphone (Dilaudid) is a Schedule II opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain.


Investigators began an investigation into Thompson and learned she visited and received prescriptions from 72 doctors in the previous 14 months.  Thompson received nearly 6,000 hydromorphone pills from these physicians who were located in multiple counties in Southern California including Ventura County.  Physicians in Ventura County were located in the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, and Simi Valley. Through physician and pharmacist interviews, investigators learned Thompson was able to commit these crimes due to a gross underutilization and lack of familiarity with CURES by physicians and pharmacists throughout Southern California. Investigators also learned Thompson was on probation for similar activity in Los Angeles County.


On January 13, 2016, investigators from the Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit and Ventura Police Department contacted Thompson at her home in the 5900 block of Imperial Highway, South Gate.  She was arrested and her home was searched pursuant to her probation terms. Evidence related to the crime of doctor shopping was recovered at her residence as well as a handgun.  Thompson was booked into the Ventura County Jail.  Her court date is pending.


The Thousand Oaks Police Department Directed Enforcement Team assisted with the investigation.


Additional Information: The Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit is a task force made up of members from the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, Simi Valley Police Department, Thousand Oaks Police Department, the District Attorney's Office Bureau of Investigation, the California Highway Patrol, the Health Quality Investigation Unit of the California Division of Investigation, and the California Department of Health Care Services. The primary mission of the task force is combatting the transfer of legal prescription medication to the illegal market. In addition, the task force works to identify and stop new trends of abuse among the younger population and investigates overdose deaths due to both prescription medication and illicit drug use. Information regarding criminal activity may be emailed to or called in to (805) 383-8700.


The Ventura County Interagency Pharmaceutical Crimes Unit is partnered with Ventura County Behavioral Health, Ventura County Public Health, Ventura County Office of Education, and the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office in a task force known as the Rx and Heroin Abuse workgroup.  The workgroup is a collaborative prevention campaign, uniting law enforcement, educators, health care professionals, county agencies and community members.  The workgroup was launched in 2012 to identify and understand common problems and applicable resources. The main objective of the workgroup is to reduce prescription drug misuse, heroin abuse, and overdose in Ventura County.  One of the main goals of the workgroup is to achieve 100% physician utilization of CURES by the end of 2016.



Prepared by:

Sergeant Victor Fazio


News Release Date:

January 13, 2016


Media Follow-Up Contact:

Investigator Wallace Boggess

805 947 7963



Approved by:

Captain Curt Rothschiller