Local physician arrested in drug scheme

http://2theadvocate.com/stories/092105/new_drugscheme001.shtml Sept. 2005 - A Baton Rouge doctor was arrested Aug. 24 for fraudulently obtaining OxyContin and distributing the narcotic, according to an arrest report from Baton Rouge Police.

Peter Thuc Nguyen, 26, of 6765 Corporate Blvd., Apt. 10209, is charged with 26 counts of obtaining OxyContin by fraud and 26 counts of distribution, the arrest report says. He posted bond Aug. 25. OxyContin is a strong narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine that can result in physical dependence or death, according to the Federal Drug Administration.

Narcotics detectives investigated a report that about three months ago Nguyen had contacted Douglas Littlejohn about helping the doctor get quantities of OxyContin, according to court records.

Littlejohn told detectives that Nguyen asked to meet him at a local pharmacy where Nguyen filled out a prescription for OxyContin in Littlejohn’s name, according to court records. Nguyen gave Littlejohn cash for the prescription, then waited nearby, court records say.

Littlejohn presented the prescription to the pharmacist, then returned outside to hand the bottle over to Nguyen, records say. Nguyen then gave Littlejohn a quantity of the OxyContin, and kept majority of the bottle for himself, records say.

Littlejohn told detectives that he had made three purchases for Nguyen in the same way the past three months, court records say. One time, the exchange took place at Nguyen’s apartment on Corporate Boulevard, records say. During the investigation, detectives observed an alleged hand-to-hand exchange between Nguyen and another subject at a pharmacy, then the pair went to Nguyen’s apartment, court records say.

A search warrant of Nguyen’s apartment was issued Aug. 24, and detectives took items including prescription pads, phone bills, medical files, a Rolodex, a tax form, a loan application and a work schedule at Lane Memorial Hospital, court records say.

Health Department Tells Doctor
He Can No Longer Prescribe Drugs

9/2005 - The Florida Department of Health said Kissimmee Doctor Dr. Nguyen could no longer prescribe drugs after pharmacists from around the area noticed an unusual pattern. The investigation dated back more than three years and officials said Nguyen wrote prescriptions without even knowing who they were for.

Nguyen said he's effectively out of business now that he can't prescribe narcotics anymore. He said, as a pain clinic, that's why people would go there. State investigators said that was also what got him into trouble.

The complaints started in 2002. Six pharmacists from different stores in different counties reported Nguyen for writing an unusually high number of narcotics prescriptions, hundreds of thousands of doses of OxyContin, Soma and Xanax.

"Most of the time, they are neck pain and back pain," Nguyen explained.

But a Medicine Shoppe pharmacist said Nguyen's patients didn't seem to be in pain and appeared to be "blitzed." A Target pharmacist reported two men who came in together with identical prescriptions for a narcotic cocktail. A Publix pharmacist said she called to verify the narcotics and Nguyen said he wrote the prescriptions before she even told him the patients' names.

"These pharmacists are the ones that see it. They're on the front lines. We count on them calling us and giving us this information," said Lt. Warren Sheppard, Kissimmee Police Deartment.

Investigators said surveillance at Nguyen's clinic showed patients driving from all over Florida, as far away as the Panhandle, and that's a red flag.

"Word gets out through grapevine, so to speak, that this doc is easy. Go to him and you'll be able to get whatever you want," explained Sheppard.

Drug agents raided Nguyen's office in January seizing more than 500 patient files. Six of his patients died in 2002 and 2003, each within days of filling his prescriptions, all from multi-drug overdoses. He said he plans to appeal.

"I didn't do anything wrong," Nguyen insisted.

There remains an ongoing criminal investigation into Nguyen and a statewide prosecutor is considering filing criminal charges.

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