NEW YORK: A 71-year old Indian-origin physician has been arrested and charged with illegally prescribing opioids to patients outside the usual course of his professional practice in the US.
Sawtantra Kumar Chopra of California was arrested from his home in Modesto.
Last month, a federal grand jury in Fresno brought a 22-count indictment against him, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
If convicted, Chopra faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison.
"Medical professionals who abuse their position of trust and fuel the opioid epidemic for profit will be held responsible," Becerra said.
"Prescription drug abuse is a serious public health crisis that harms families and communities throughout California."
According to the indictment, between March 2017 and March 2018, on 22 occasions Chopra prescribed highly addictive, commonly abused prescription drugs, including hydrocodone, alprazolam and Promethazine with codeine syrup outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
These controlled substances affect the central nervous system and may only be prescribed when medically required, the statement said.