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A physician who illegally wrote prescriptions for hundreds of painkillers for two patients who eventually became his sex partners was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison.

Naga Thota, a 62-year-old pain specialist, pleaded guilty last November to seven counts of distributing and dispensing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose.

“Today a doctor, someone who held the public trust, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for prescribing powerful painkillers in exchange for sexual favors,” said William Sherman, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Special Agent in Charge in San Diego.

“(The) DEA will continue to investigate anyone who does not take that public trust to heart and who is registered with DEA to dispense these dangerous and potentially deadly drugs,” Sherman said.

Thota admitted that in some instances, he prescribed oxycodone and hydrocodone in the names of the brother and the father of one of the patients in order to supply her with the painkillers. The brother and father had no legitimate medical purpose for the painkillers, and no doctor-patient relationship with Thota.

According to the underlying complaint, one victim said she met Thota when she was hospitalized for withdrawal symptoms for hydrocodone and Alprazolam. Thota agreed to treat her but documented that his treatment was for pain, even though the patient did not suffer from any medical condition that caused chronic or ongoing pain. The victim also stated that Thota kept increasing the dosage of the painkillers.

That victim, who was 20 when she met Thota, said she felt that if she didn’t submit to sexual acts with him, he would not have provided her with additional opioid prescriptions. After being exposed to greater dosage levels of opioids by Thota, the woman started using an ever stronger opioid, heroin.

–City News Service

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