National

Doctor convicted after handing out 9,500 painkiller prescriptions in NC over 5 years

By the numbers: The opioid crisis in America

Opioid addiction is a fast-growing problem in Missouri and across the country. Here is a look at some alarming statistics. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Up Next
Opioid addiction is a fast-growing problem in Missouri and across the country. Here is a look at some alarming statistics. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Pharmacies around New Bern, North Carolina, started to get concerned when they realized how many prescriptions for narcotic pain killers Dr. Sanjay Kumar was writing from his sports medicine and rehabilitation practice, according to the Department of Justice. So they called the Drug Enforcement Administration.

A jury convicted Kumar, 53, after a 26-day trial in federal court Monday on 13 counts, including illegal distribution of oxycodone, money laundering and tax evasion, according to a press release from the DOJ.

Prosecutors said Kumar wrote 9,500 prescriptions for addictive opiate pain killers and other controlled substances between 2011 and 2016. Kumar would write the prescriptions without examining patients in what witnesses described as a cash-only business with only Kumar in the doctor’s office, the DOJ said.

“Patients received a prescription from Kumar at every visit,” according to the press release.

Kumar is no longer licensed as a doctor in North Carolina, according to the state Medical Board. His license lapsed in 2017 and was not renewed.

In June, the Medical Board said two of Kumar’s patients died from opioid overdoses while under his care. The board scheduled a hearing for October to consider the allegations.

The two patients got monthly prescriptions for Xanax and oxycodone for more than three years each, the Medical Board said. “The majority of Dr. Kumar’s notes for these visits were cloned, copied, and pasted from one visit to the other,” the board said.

Kumar’s federal sentencing is scheduled for January 2020. He was found “guilty of five counts of Unlawful Distribution of Oxycodone outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, five counts of Money Laundering by Concealment, and three counts of Attempt to Evade and Defeat Tax,” according to the DOJ.

More than a half-million people died from opioids between 2000 and 2015. Today, opioid deaths are considered an epidemic. To understand the struggle of a drug addiction, we take a closer look at what happens to the body.

Related stories from Merced Sun-Star

Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
  Comments