Undercover cop goes to doctor with dog X-ray and is prescribed painkillers, doc arrested
(CBS News) A doctor accused of doling out painkillers for patients willing to pay cash has been arrested.
CBS Los Angeles reports that police and federal agents raided the offices of a L.A.-area physician Dr. Rolando Lodevico Atiga on Thursday.
The arrest came following a two-month investigation by Glendora police and the Drug Enforcement Administration that included undercover officers purchasing prescriptions for medications at Atiga's office, police said. One of the undercovers came in complaining of pain with a "proof" - an X-ray which actually belonged to a dog. Atiga allegedly prescribed powerful opioid painkillers to that officer.
"For him to look at dog X-rays where clearly you can see the tail of this dog -- if any of our eyes can see it's a dog x-ray -- for him to look at it, comment, `Oh yeah, I can see why you're in pain,' and issue her a very addictive painkiller, one of two conclusions could be made: Either Sparky the dog, you know, really, really, badly needs Percocet or this doctor is a petty drug dealer masquerading as a physician," Glendora police Capt. Tim Staab told CBS Los Angeles.
"I would classify Dr. Atiga as a petty drug dealer, no different than the ... drug dealer standing on the street corner. No difference," he added.
Police said Atiga would meet with patients and write prescriptions for powerful - and addictive - pain pills in exchange for payments of $200 to $400. He'd allegedly pocket the money and then would tell the patients to tip his receptionist $50, Staab said.
The Los Angeles Times reports Atiga has a prior felony conviction for taking illegal kickbacks in return for referring Medicare patients for home health services.
As he was led out of his office in handcuffs, Atiga said, "I don't know what these charges are."
The arrest comes the same week as the Food and Drug Administration and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced new requirements for prescription drug manufacturers to educate health care professionals and patients about opioid use and abuse.
Inappropriate use of the drugs caused nearly 342,000 emergency department visits in 2009, according to government figures and the highly addictive drugs were blamed for 16,000 deaths that year, up from 14,800 in 2008.
Here's CBS Los Angeles with more on Dr. Atiga's arrest:
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