The borough of Queens in New York City. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

New York City police have said that a Filipino doctor and a nurse practitioner prescribed more than six million oxycodone pills as part of an illegal drugs ring that was operating out of their medical clinic.

Dr Dante Cubangbang, 50, nurse John Gargan and two others who worked in the Queens clinic were among nine people arrested by the police on Thursday. They allegedly collected more than US$5 million in cash from visitation fees, which they laundered and then split.

Cubangbang is said to have handed out prescriptions during normal clinic hours at appointments that lasted just a few minutes and involved little or no physical examination. The patients had no legitimate medical need of the medication, ABS-CBN News reported.

Police said their inquiries indicated Cubangbang and his associates had approved more than twice as many oxycodone pills under public health services than the next highest prescriber in New York State.

Cubangbang, Gargan, Michael Kellerman and Loren Piquant have been charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Cubangbang, Gargan and Kellerman were also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, which carries a jail sentence of up to 10 years, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.