Earlier this month, Manhattan Dr. Martin Tesher was convicted by a Brooklyn grand jury on 10 counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone without legitimate medical purpose. Over the course of five years, the 82-year-old Tesher wrote over 14,000 oxycodone scripts which totaled over two million pills at a collective estimated value of around $20 million. He faces a mandatory 20-year prison sentence. One of Tesher’s patients overdosed just two days after visiting the doctor. He also had his medical license revoked and is facing three separate medical practice suits. Tesher will be appealing the convictions and fully maintains his innocence.
Three weeks prior to Tesher’s conviction, South Florida physician Dr. Andres Mencia was convicted by a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale of participating in a conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. The charges included the unlawful dispensation of opioids and other illicit drugs. The evidence against Mencia suggested that he engaged in false consultations for cash-paying patients for the sole purpose of improperly and illegally writing prescriptions for opioids. Mencia and Tesher join Long Island physician Dr. Michael Belfiore who was convicted in May on 28 counts relating to writing hundreds of illegal prescriptions, contributing to the death of two men in the process.
Lastly, the Justice Department recently announced their intent to charge over 600 people, including physicians and other medical professionals, in a massive healthcare fraud and opioid abuse crackdown case. The recent uptick in enforcement may be a signal of heightened accountability for bad actors. America consumes an overwhelming majority of the world’s prescription supply, and abuse often begins at the doctor’s office. Data from the University of Southern California shows that, while emergency rooms have curtailed the dispensation of prescription opioids, physicians’ offices still provide them at a consistently vigorous rate. Many states have started placing tighter restrictions on opioid dispensation within their borders.