As prescription drug deaths fell in San Diego County, those from opiates rose.
Photo via County News Center

A local psychiatrist has paid $145,000 to resolve allegations that he overprescribed opioids to his patients over the course of several years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

Dr. Prakash Bhatia, who previously owned and operated Progressive Health and Wellness in El Cajon, wrote prescriptions for hydromorphone, morphine, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl and oxymorphone between March 2013 and December 2017 “without a legitimate medical purpose and/or outside the usual course of his professional practice, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors say Bhatia also prescribed those medications in combination with depressants, “which are known to increase the risk of abuse, addiction and overdose.”

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said, “Overprescribing opioids to patients who need treatment for their pain has contributed to the opioid epidemic in this country.”

An investigation into Bhatia was initiated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

DEA Special Agent in Charge John W. Callery said, “By holding the medical community accountable for improperly writing opioid prescriptions, the DEA is ensuring that San Diegans are safe from illicit prescribers who enable the abuse of prescription drugs for financial benefit.”

— City News Service

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