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Entries in Overdose (4)

Sunday
Mar042012

California Doctor Charged With Murder in Patient Overdoses

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A doctor in Los Angeles County was charged with murder after three of her patients died of prescription drug overdoses.

Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng, 42, an osteopathic physician in Rowland Heights, Calif., allegedly wrote an average of 25 prescriptions per day over the last three years for addictive painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, with little regard for her patients' medical histories, according to ABC station KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

It's rare that a physician is charged with murder when a patient dies in connection with his or her treatment, according to James Acker, a professor at the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Albany, SUNY.

"Far more typically, although still unusual, is to charge a physician with criminal homicide," a lesser charge, he said.

For example, Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the death of his patient, the singer Michael Jackson.

More than 200 physicians have been arrested or convicted in connection with patients' prescription drug overdoses since 2003, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

"Where you are knowingly engaging in risky behavior, and it's likely that an adverse consequence such as a death will result, that's sufficient to consider it homicide," said Acker, who is not connected with the case.

Tseng was arrested Thursday and charged with murder in the deaths of Vu Nguyen, 29, of Lake Forest, on March 2, 2009; Steven Ogle, 25, of Palm Desert, on April 9, 2009; and Joseph Rovero III, 21, an Arizona State University student from San Ramon, on Dec. 18, 2009, KABC-TV reported.

Prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the United States in 2008, three times as many people as were killed by painkiller overdoses in 1999, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control.

Many young people believe that prescription drugs are "much safer" than illegal drugs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In fact, some 7 million Americans aged 12 years and older reported in 2009 that they'd abused prescription drugs for non-medical purposes within the past month, a 13 percent increase from the 6.2 million who did so in 2008, according to the DEA.

Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley told KABC-TV that Tseng was prescribing medication that "was probably not needed at all, to feed someone's habit."

Undercover officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration had been posing as patients and investigating her practice for the last few years, while she was writing some 27,000 prescriptions starting in Jan. 2007, reported KABC-TV.

KABC-TV said the DEA suspended Dr. Tseng's license to write prescriptions in 2010, and she eventually surrendered her license to the Osteopathic Medical Board of California's Department of Consumer Affairs.

She is being held on $3 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned on March 9, when she'll face some 21 other felony counts, including alleged fraud for prescribing drugs without a legitimate purpose, KABC-TV said.

Her husband, also a doctor, continues to run her clinic in Rowland Hills, reported KABC-TV. An assistant who answered the phone at the clinic said that Tseng's husband was not there and would not respond to ABCNews.com's request for comment.

Tseng's attorney, Peter Osinoff of the firm Bonne, Bridges, Mueller, O'Keefe & Nichols, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One mother, Jodi Barber, 52, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., said she knows all too well the tolls that prescription drug abuse can take on young lives.

After her 19-year-old son died of a prescription drug overdose in January 2010, she co-created documentary called "Overtaken" to shed light on the problem.

Barber said she was unaware of her son's short battle with painkillers until three months before his death. She said that one of her son's friend's gave him just a quarter of a pill, which they'd crush and snort, and which was enough to get him hooked.

Barber alleges that another friend of her son's who went to Tseng for drugs then sold them to her son; that boy died five months later, she said.

"These kids would go to her, and she'd give them 90 Opana [oxymorphone, a narcotic used to treat moderate to severe pain]," Barber said.

She said she partially blames Tseng for her son's death.

"She's the professional, and she knows better," Barber said. "She overprescribed, and she prescribed deadly combinations."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar182011

Hallucinogenic Drug Kills Teen, 10 More Hospitalized

Thinkstock Images/Comstock(BLAINE, Minn.) -- One young man is dead and 10 others were hospitalized in Blaine, Minn. on Thursday after a mass overdose of the synthetic drug 2C-E, police said. Trevor Robinson, 19, died Thursday night. He was the father of a five-month-old baby.

The group took the drug during a spring break party at the home of one of the hospitalized boys. The other victims fled the residence and were suffering the effects of the overdose at separate locations before authorities found them and took them to the hospital.

The hallucinogenic drug is also known as "Europa" and, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, "Tootsie." Officials say the drug was ordered over the Internet.

It is a close chemical cousin of 2C-B, a controlled substance that is legally available only to registrants such as researchers, chemists, or certain doctors; it is illegal for anyone else to have it. Since the DEA identifies it as an analog of a controlled substance, 2C-E is also technically illegal.

Synthetic hallucinogens are becoming increasingly more available, coming from countries such as China and Thailand where there is little regulation and oversight on the production of chemicals, according to the DEA.

Lawmakers and drug enforcement agencies are increasing their attention to the availability of synthetic drugs. In Minnesota, the state House last month approved a bill to ban synthetic marijuana. In February, New York Sen. Charles Schumer proposed a bill to add bath salts to a list of federally controlled substances. Phony bath salts made with methylenedioxypyrovalerone and mephedrone are designed with the express purpose of giving a cheap, legal high. They can cause hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, even some deaths.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Coroner: Busch's Girlfriend Died from Oxycodone Overdose

Photo Courtesy - Anheuser-Busch(ST. LOUIS) -- The girlfriend of former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV died at his home after accidentally overdosing on the painkiller oxycodone, the St. Louis County medical examiner said Wednesday.

Adrienne Martin, 27, of St. Charles, was found dead on the morning of Dec. 19 at Busch's sprawling estate in suburban St. Louis. Martin had slept at Busch's home the night before her death. He has said he woke up around 11 a.m. and tried to awaken Martin, but couldn't.

St. Louis County forensics administrator Suzanne McCune said the full report from Martin's toxicology exam wouldn't be released until the prosecuting attorney's investigation is complete. She would not say if any other drugs were found in Martin's system.

It wasn't immediately clear if the finding could result in any criminal charges. Busch's attorney, Art Margulis, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Busch, 46, was the last in a long line of members of his family to head the iconic brewery, maker of Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Busch and other beers. Despite his efforts to ward off a takeover, Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. was sold to Belgian brewer InBev in 2008, two years after Busch took over as chief executive officer upon his father's retirement.

Busch said his relationship with Martin was so strong he had put aside his playboy ways.

"She was the only girl I've ever been with that I didn't want to have someone on the side," Busch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an interview last month. "You know, I'm this notorious bachelor who always wanted someone on the side, but I didn't with Adrienne."

Martin had done modeling work and was the mother of an eight-year-old son from a previous marriage. Friends had said she was strongly opposed to illegal drugs.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

Expulsion Possible for Students at Overdose Party

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(ELLENSBURG, Wash.) -- The students involved in an off-campus party in Washington state that resulted in 12 young people suffering possible overdoses of a date-rape drug may face expulsion for violating the university's code of conduct.

Authorities on Monday were trying to determine who organized the party that may have been part of a larger date-rape scheme. As many as 50 students attended the Roslyn, Washington party that occurred 30 miles from Central Washington University, where many of the partygoers are students, according to Rosyln-Cle Elum police.

But what began as a typical college party soon spiraled out of control when 12 students -- most of whom are believed to be female -- were rushed to the hospital after suffering apparent overdoses.

Authorities have said they believe some sort of drug was surreptitiously slipped into the victims' drinks, although they didn't found evidence of drugs during a search of the home.

Students' punishments could range from mandatory alcohol education class to suspension or expulsion, according to a school official.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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