A doctor selling drugs was sentenced to three months shy of five years in a federal prison and a subsequent period of three years of supervised release on Monday.William Joseph Watson of Del Mar, Calif., a seaside city located 20 miles north of San Diego, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to unlawfully dispense and distribute oxycodone four months ago after being arrested and charged in June 2013, four years after state authorities were tipped about his behavior. The osteopath had promoted a more holistic approach to medicine and the use of alternative ways to heal and relieve pain. However, the truth could not be further from that image as his true focus was not only on controlled substances but also on prescribing them in a reckless manner.This doctor selling drugs had helped enable addicts to continue their habits and dealers to earn a living by selling drugs on the streets that they had been prescribed to them by Watson. In fact, a prosecutor had labeled him as a “drug dealer” himself.In his plea agreement, which he signed in August, Watson admitted that he had distributed more than 3,000 pills of oxycodone for no genuine medical purpose. However, he had also been indicted on 40 other similar counts, and the number of pills that he prescribed to those who did not need them may have numbered in the tens of thousands. He received up to $500 per prescription.After California state authorities learned of Watson’s activities in 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration became involved and sent in people posing as patients to determine if he was in fact improperly prescribing drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and Xanax. A man posing as a surfer and a woman posing as his girlfriend were both prescribed 120 oxycodone tablets while she also received 30 Xanax pills. It did not appear that any of those drugs were necessary for treatment. Medical histories were not consulted, and other remedies were not openly considered.The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, a database with the appropriate acronym of CURES, has helped show prescription patterns that appear irregular, and it showed such a pattern with Watson’s prescriptions. The database has also helped show patients who shop around and garner a number of prescriptions from a variety of doctors. For example, Jennifer and Bryce Charpentier were shown to have had more than 70 prescriptions filled by at least half a dozen doctors apiece. During Watson’s sentencing, Judge M. James Lorenz said that the length of the punishment was that long partly to deter other doctors from committing the same crime. San Diego’s Drug and Enforcement Administration office has noted that the number of prescription drug cases in 2014 is about twice as many as a year ago.Watson’s attorney argued that Watson had suffered from bipolar disease, and that was why he acted in that manner as opposed to doing so with criminal intent.http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/dec/08/del-mar-doctor-prescription-drugs-oxycodone/ http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/aug/23/doctor-prescription-drug-abuse-watson-dea/?#article-copy http://www.justice.gov/usao/cas/press/2013/cas13-0604-PRWatsonFinal.pdf
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