Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested a Long Island doctor who plied addicts with prescription pills such as oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone, leading to the death of one patient, officials said.
Dr. Steven Parry, of Setauket, is accused of doling out the prescription pills to patients who had no medical need for them, including to the patient who overdosed and died in 2014 after taking the drugs he prescribed her, a federal arrest warrant said.
Over four years, Parry, a doctor of osteopathic medicine with a Hauppauge practice, prescribed “hundreds of controlled substance prescriptions” to the victim, referred to in court papers as Jane Doe, after he began treating her for ailments starting in 2010.
Parry didn’t heed warnings from Medicaid and the victim’s mother about her addition, court papers show.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad arrested Parry at the U.S. District Court in Central Islip, where he was arraigned. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields set bond at $200,000, which Parry posted
Parry’s Uniondale attorney Alexander Bateman said his client “is a dedicated physician, husband and father who cares deeply about all of his patients and we’re going to answer these charges in court.”
Parry was known as an “easy write” — a doctor who would prescribe medications without evidence of a medical need for them, a confidential source who obtained drugs from Parry told the DEA, alerting the agency in 2012, according to court papers.
Parry is among several Long Island doctors in recent years who have been accused or convicted of illegally distributing oxycodone, leading to deaths in some cases, in a region struggling with an opioid epidemic, which includes heroin and prescription pain medication.
Recent figures show that the crisis on Long Island shows no signs of slowing down, with Nassau a reporting a record number of fatal heroin overdoses — 58 — last year and Suffolk tallying more than 100 deaths for the third straight year.
Nationwide, fatal overdoses caused by opiates like oxycodone have risen dramatically in recently months, driven by a surge in painkiller medication and a flood of cheap heroin from Mexico. In Suffolk, the birthrate for babies born addicted to opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers, has more than doubled over the past six years, outpacing increases in Nassau and other suburban counties in the region, according to state health data.
Authorities said Medicaid sent Parry a letter in 2010 advising that the victim had a history of opioid abuse and was taking suboxone for her addiction, though drug tests over the course of her treatment from Parry later revealed she was not taking the medication, records show.
After the confidential informant tipped authorities, a pharmacist also told DEA agents that addicts were showing up with prescriptions from Parry’s office. Records showed that Parry had for some time been prescribing large quantities of controlled substances to young patients, some of whom lived far from his office and in homes where people had been prescribed the same or similar drugs, the warrant said.
DEA authorities met with Parry in December 2012 and he assured them he “would more closely monitor his prescription writing activities going forward.”
In January 2013, an anonymous person called Parry to tell him that the victim was selling the pills, including Xanax and oxycodone Parry prescribed her in January 2013, but when later questioned she told Parry she was indeed taking them, but was just “running out early.”
The victim overdosed in August 2013, requiring a breathing tube, , the warrant said, but officials said Parry continued to prescribe her medications in subsequent visits.
Parry is accused of writing in her medical file that he saw “no signs of overuse or abuse.”
About 20 days after her overdose, Parry prescribed a cocktail of oxycodone, methadone and hydrocodone, combined totaling 750 pills, according to the warrant.
Along with other drugs, Parry continued to prescribe the three in similar quantities on a monthly basis until February 2014.
On Feb. 27, 2014, the woman was found dead in her home, and an autopsy by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was acute intoxication, caused by the combined effects of hydrocodone, methadone and the muscle relaxant carisoprodol, all prescribed by Parry.
Over the years, federal authorities have cracked down on the illegal distribution of painkillers.
Two years ago, Great Neck doctor, Eric Jacobson — one of the largest distributors of oxycodone in New York — plead guilty to 19 counts of illegal distributing the painkiller to several patients, including Medford pharmacy killer David Laffer.
Laffer is serving a life sentence in the Father’s Day 2011 massacre of four people in a Medford pharmacy. His wife, Melinda Brady, has been serving a 25-year sentence for helping to plan the robbery and driving the getaway car.
In 2014, former Baldwin doctor William Conway was sentenced to 8 years by a federal judge who said his distribution of oxycodone was responsible for the death of one his patients.
With Robert Kessler