Doctor indicted for patient’s death caused by selling opioid painkillers

20170309120000, Hezne Ezaty Abu Hasan
Byung Kang and his wife, Soo Kang, face charges of distributing opioid painkiller prescriptions to drug dealers and addicts. Photo credit: NJOAG
Byung Kang, a doctor from Little Falls, New Jersey has allegedly sold unneeded painkiller prescriptions to patients that he knew were drug dealers and addicts.

Kang’s role in supplying the addictive opioid painkillers has also caused the drug-induced death of 26-year-old Michael Justice, in December 2014. Empty bottles of oxycodone prescribed by the doctor were found, including one that had been filled just five days before his death, according to the state Attorney General's office.

Justice's mother, Susan, called Kang 18 months before her son died and threatened to go to the police, according to the state, but Kang was alleged to have continued, without medical justification.

In addition to the first-degree charges of strict liability for Justice’s death, the 77-year-old doctor has been indicted for charges of money laundering, tax fraud and drug distribution.

Given seven months’ prescriptions by simply telling “shoulder felt tight”

Attorney General Christopher Porrino said in a statement that Kang allegedly "turned his back on all medical and ethical standards, not to mention all standards of human decency."

Kang allegedly sold 90 pill bottles of 30 milligrams oxycodone pills to patients with “no medical need” at USD150 to USD200 each. The authorities stated that Kang’s “own records revealed that he knew many of those patients were addicted to oxycodone or were reselling the pills.” At least five patients were addicted to the painkillers and at least 10 were reselling their prescriptions.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Kang’s practice after receiving numerous tips that he was a major source for oxycodone prescriptions.

An undercover agent was sent to his practice in October 2015, with the agent simply telling Kang that her “shoulder felt tight”. Though Kang acknowledged that she did not have pain or limitation in range of motion, he issued her a USD200 prescription of 90 high-dose oxycodone pills.

A diagnostic test was not ordered and the physical examination lasted less than a minute. Between the first initial visit and April 2016, Kang issued six more similar prescriptions, one for every month for seven months, even though he "acknowledged that perhaps the agent should not be taking oxycodone”.

USD1.4 million cash money seized in a raid

Kang’s practice was raided in May 2016, with more than USD564,300 in cash seized, together with an additional USD870,000 from the Kangs’ bank accounts. State and federal authorities also found “incomplete patient records that, in most cases, contained no plan of care for patients and no medical justification for prescribing narcotics to them”.

His wife, Soo Kang, 73, who served as the office's receptionist, also faces charges in the indictment. The USD1.4 million cash is attributed to criminal activity, thus charging the couple with money laundering count. They are also charged with filing fraudulent tax returns and failure to pay income tax on the proceeds in 2014 and 2015.

Kang entered a consent order with the state Board of Medical Examiners, voluntarily surrendering his license and prohibiting him from practising until further action.

Under New Jersey’s strict liability statute, Kang faces up to 20 years in state prison. He awaits an arraignment date, but according to his attorney Stephen Turano, he will not plead guilty, as “he has had many years of distinguished practice as a doctor”.

"By indiscriminately peddling this dangerous painkiller, which has been the gateway to so much opiate addiction, misery and death, Dr Kang allegedly caused the death of a vulnerable young man and put himself on a par with every street-corner drug dealer," said Porrino. MIMS

Read more:
Doctor admits to making millions from selling prescription drugs to addicts
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Doctor who ran ‘pill mill’ linked to 10 patient deaths gets two years in prison

Sources:
http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/doctor-charged-with-selling-unneeded-pain-pill-prescriptions-1.3308415
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2017/03/nj_doctor_indicted_over_claims_he_prescribed_opioi.html
http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/health/2017/03/02/little-falls-doctor-indicted-selling-pain-pill-prescriptions/98637244/
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/07/state_suspends_licenses_of_2_doctors_over_suspicio.html