Pubdate: Fri, 01 Feb 2002
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Author: Kimberly Bolander
Bookmark: (Methadone)


Redding Physician Suspected Of Illegally Prescribing Drug

Drug agents raided a Redding doctor's clinic for evidence he illegally
treated drug addicts and may be investigating whether his practice
contributed to five deaths.

J. Gregory White, 54, opened Shasta Immediate Care more than a year
ago. The medical doctor of 26 years specializes in pain treatment
using methadone, he said at his office Thursday.

Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force (SINTF) agents served a search
warrant on White's Rosaline Avenue business Wednesday, combing it for
12 hours and seizing 62 bottles of methadone tablets, White's
prescription slips and more than 100 patients' files, Cmdr. Ed Pecis

White said law enforcement agents think his prescriptions killed five

"They want to send me to jail for murder," he said.

Pecis would not confirm whether White is suspected for any patient's

One patient died days after White upped her daily methadone dose from
40 to 50 milligrams, to further alleviate her pain, White said.

Two other patients, one a man about 70, overdosed on street drugs, not
White's prescribed methadone, White said.

He doesn't remember treating the remaining two, or if they were even
his patients.

Drug agents originally obtained a search warrant for nine patients'
files, but got a second warrant Wednesday for all White's files after
their initial search that morning, Pecis said.

They also searched White's home, next door to the clinic. He described
SINTF agents as a "Nazi squad" who surrounded his house with guns
drawn, pointing one in his face when they surprised him and he shut
the door.

"They treated me as if I was running a meth lab," he

Pecis said officers must protect themselves when entering a home. They
can't give suspects a chance to arm themselves, he said.

"Just because he's a doctor doesn't mean he doesn't have guns or a
violent record," Pecis said.

Agents found no guns, nor any evidence of illegal street drugs, Pecis

White was not arrested and no charges were filed against him Thursday.
However, the commander expects allegations will be filed at some
point, he said.

Methadone is a synthetic narcotic that can relieve pain or curb the
withdrawals suffered by heroin or opium addiction, White said.

Some of his patients happen to suffer from both conditions, he

"If you're an addict, and you have severe neck pain after three
surgeries, don't you think you have the right to pain medication?" he

Not if White is the physician, Pecis said.

White is not licensed to prescribe narcotics to people who are
addicted to narcotics, he said. State law requires special
certification to treat drug addicts, Pecis said.

"You can provide methadone for pain, but if you're going to treat
narcotic addiction, you have to be licensed by the state," he said.

White said he is only treating pain.

But often his patients come to him addicted to pain medicines
prescribed by previous doctors, he said.

Methadone reduces their pain while saving them from drug withdrawals.
It doesn't get them high, he said.

It's the stigma of methadone law enforcers know, not the drug's
benefits, he said.

"You have people that don't understand something and they don't want
to understand it," he said.

White's clients pick up methadone tablets once a week, and are told to
consume the drug about every other day, White said.

For those with dependency problems, he mandates they attend two 12-
step meetings a week at his office and undergo frequent drug tests.

"I'm doing the best I can with what I have to work with," he

Without his prescriptions, White expects his patients will suffer
withdrawals and end up in hospital emergency rooms, he said.

Many of his clients are strictly pain cases, White said. He has sent
at least two people to Sacramento for help, he said.

"I couldn't treat them - they didn't have pain. They had addiction,"
he said.

Pecis said drug addicts take methadone when they can't get heroin or
morphine to avoid withdrawal symptoms until their next high.

"What the California law has endeavored to do is not allow an addict
to supplement one narcotic for another," he said.

Most methadone clinics issue the drug in a liquid or wafer form, to
ensure patients consume it immediately, Pecis said. Some clinics send
patients home with a three-or seven-day amount, but the majority
receive it on a daily basis, he said. 
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