Unnecessary prescriptions for potentially addictive painkillers could leave thousands of people hooked on them. Although most doctors refrain from handing out pain relievers too readily to their patients, an octogenarian doctor has been recently charged with prescribing more than 14,000 painkillers to people who did not need them. The accused physician Martin Tesher, from Manhattan, was under the radar all these years, and was finally taken into custody and produced before the court on June 5.
Describing himself as a “good old-fashioned family doctor” on his website, the accused carried out the dubious practice of prescribing opioids to patients including those whom he allegedly knew to be addicted to such medication.
Tesher’s dangerous practice reportedly spanned across five years when his prescriptions generated 2.2 million oxycodone pills — $20 million worth of opioids, said the authorities. The accused, who was often found making house calls, made oxycodone prescriptions in a “feel good gesture.”
In a country that is grappling with an opioid epidemic, such irresponsible acts, especially from caregivers, is like rubbing salt in the country’s wounds. Even New York City is embroiled in the conundrum, facing the wrath of opioid abuse. In 2016, its five boroughs recorded a staggering 43 percent rise in opioid-related deaths, which stood at 1,075 in 2016, up from 753 the previous year. The city witnessed fatal opioid overdoses (including heroin and pain pills) three times from 2000 to 2015, as per the city and state data.
The accused doctor falsified his credentials on his website, mentioning pain management as one of the key services he provides to his patients. However, officials repudiated such claims, saying that he does not have any specialized pain management training.
The court papers accused Dr. Tesher of prescribing confidential informants with a high dose of opioids. In one particular case, he prescribed 15 oxycodone pills a day, despite knowing that the patient (informant) had an addiction.
The papers also alleged that Tesher continually prescribed oxycodone pills to a patient who confessed to having a painkiller addiction. He tried to linger the treatment of the patient using oxycodone pills but refrained from prescribing Suboxone, an anti-opiate addiction drug, or offering any addiction treatment.
Although the court released him on a $250,000 bond, if proven guilty, he might face up to 20 years of imprisonment for distributing controlled substances. In the interim, the bail conditions bar him from writing a list of drugs that include oxycodone.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) named him as a key player among a slew of doctors they have identified diverting prescriptions in New York City. “Tesher used his position as a doctor not to heal but to foster opioid addiction,” said Acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde.
There are other perpetrators in the market, who are fueling this menace in the society. Another doctor, Kevin Lowe received a sentence of 12 years in prison in January 2016 for orchestrating a huge oxycodone ring out of a chain of Bronx clinics. However, the DEA is bent on bringing such practitioners to book and curb the proliferation of opioid epidemic in the country.
Addiction is a bane that jeopardizes lives of individuals abusing any substance. However, it is also treatable with timely intervention. If you or a loved one in the family is struggling with any drug addiction, call the 24/7 Recovery Helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online for a quick resolution.
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