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California Doctor Who Admitted to Reckless Painkiller Prescribing Awaits Sentence

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California physician Dr. Nazar Al Bussam is expected to be sentenced on Wednesday for writing tens of thousands of prescriptions for narcotic drugs and other painkillers without a legitimate medical purpose.

Dr. Al Bussam was the state’s top prescriber of painkillers and other commonly abused medications, according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper found at least three of the doctor’s patients died of drug overdoses, and two others died with drugs in their systems, while they were in possession of pill bottles with the doctor’s name on them.

Prosecutors are asking for almost 20 years in prison for Dr. Al Bussam, who is 71. He was arrested following a three-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to a DEA news release at the time of his arrest last October, during a recent two-year period, Dr. Al Bussam wrote almost 60,000 prescriptions, most of them for hydrocodone and alprazolam.

He was accused of operating a “pill mill,” writing prescriptions for cash, whether or not a patient needed the drugs. According to the article, he collected between $3,000 and $5,000 in cash per day. He prescribed drugs to at least three suspected drug dealers. The article notes drugs he prescribed have been seized by law enforcement officials as far away as Texas.

In July, Dr. Al Bussam entered a conditional guilty plea to federal drug-trafficking charges. The article states once he is sentenced, he could appeal the ruling and could withdraw his guilty plea if he wins.

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