A 62-year-old New York doctor has been arrested and faces federal charges for prescribing painkillers to patients who reportedly have no need for the medicine. The federal criminal charges, which are currently pending, accuse him of illegal drug distribution. He has been conditionally released after agreeing to mental health therapy and voluntarily suspending his practice.
Federal officials, including the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration, began to suspect him of drug charges when several pharmacies notified state and federal authorities of the high amount of prescriptions that the doctor had apparently been prescribing. According to federal authorities, the doctor wrote 659 hydrocodone prescriptions in the month of September 2011 for his medical practice in Upstate New York. According to the New York Health Department's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the doctor is the fifth highest prescriber of painkillers in New York, even surpassing several medical institutions in the amount of prescriptions.
One possible reason why this doctor may have prescribed so many painkillers is because he may suffer from a mental health condition. In 2004, his medical license was suspended in 2004 when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At the time, a state medical review board had thought that his patients might be in danger because of this disorder. In 2005, this decision was overturned and he was allowed to practice medicine again. It is hoped that, through mental health therapy, he may be able to address any issues he may currently have.
Many times, doctors can be faced with an overwhelming number of patients who complain about frequent pain. For doctors, it can be a temptation to prescribe these patients medication in order to help them through their pain temporarily. However, health care professionals should be mindful that painkillers can be highly addictive and should be given to the patients who need them the most and for medical purposes.
For federal crimes of this nature, often a full investigation is completed before an arrest is even made. This can often make it difficult to fight federal charges. As federal officials move to prosecute the doctor on these federal charges, it is important for the doctor to assemble a strong criminal defense which allows him to confront the witnesses and evidence against him as he fights for an acquittal or reduced charges.
Source: Times Union, "Therapy for doctor in painkiller probe," Brendan J. Lyons, March 27, 2012