Not many people are jumping for joy over going to the dentist. In fact, a large percentage of patients have an innate fear of the dentist chair either due to a bad previous experience or as a result of hearing about someone else’s bad experience.
Patients with moderate to severe dental anxiety are given sedative pills that are stronger than nitrous oxide. You may feel sleepy or groggy, but you are easily aroused if needed. For one Baltimore-based dentist, the prescription painkillers he handed out to patients ended up getting out of control.
A federal judge is fining Vaqar Choudry $35,000 for illegally distributing oxycodone from his office in Hagerstown. Oxycodone is, when taken incorrectly, a very addictive painkiller that can quickly result in an overdose if ingestion isn’t monitored properly.
The U.S. attorney’s office stated that the dentist was sentenced Monday, August 18 in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Choudry’s sentence also includes the 95 days he spent in jail after the arrest, along with three years of supervised release.
In June, Choudry pleaded guilty to the claim and as a result prosecutors managed to dismiss a second drug count and an apparent charge that he tried to induce an underage girl to engage in sexual activity. However, the dentist will still face Washington DC charges for sexually abusing an underage girl.
Dentists are not the only doctors to have run-ins with the law regarding illegally prescribing drugs to patients. Recently, 78 year-old doctor Andrew Sun was charged for making $1 million by illegally prescribing painkillers, including Vicodin and Xanax.
The L.A.-based doctor was found guilty on 17 felony counts, including being convicted of drug trafficking. He profited most by prescribing addictive pain killers to people who he believed were drug addicts.
In order to curb this illicit behavior, many states have proposed and passed new laws that limit how much or how many painkillers can be prescribed to a patient. Pennsylvania, for example, announced new emergency room guidelines on August 14 that limit the amount of opioids prescribed in order to impede prescription drug abuse.
Keystone State emergency room doctors are now limited to prescribing their patients with just a week’s supply worth of opioid-based drugs such as Vicodin and Percocet. The providers cannot prescribe Oxycontin, methadone, or morphine without first consulting the patient’s primary care physician.
In the United States, an estimated 2,500 people aged 12 to 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. This abuse causes the largest percentage of deaths from drug overdosing, accounting for 38.2% of the 22,400 drug overdose-induced deaths.
Next time you sit down in the dentist chair, you may want to opt for local anesthetic or laughing gas.