A Rosemead doctor charged with 10 counts of unlawfully prescribing sedatives and muscle relaxants entered a not guilty plea Wednesday.
Dr. Po Long Lew was ordered to return to court on Feb. 18, when a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
The doctor allegedly prescribed benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, and carisoprodols, such as Soma, without first completing a legitimate physical exam and without his patients demonstrating a medical need, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
“The opioid epidemic continues even as we face the COVID pandemic. We know overprescribing opioids or other medications, or prescribing them to patients without a legitimate medical reason, can have deadly consequences,” Becerra said. “We must act when doctors go against their oath not to do harm and instead put their patients’ health in danger. The California Department of Justice will continue to prosecute those who are alleged to have abused our healthcare system at the expense of their patients.”
The criminal complaint alleges that between December 2018 and October 2019, Lew prescribed the muscle relaxant Soma and two sedatives, Xanax and Ativan, to patients individually or in combinations of two of the three medications.
Both sedatives and muscle relaxants are known to be especially dangerous when taken with opioids because they depress the central nervous system and the ability to breathe.
Becerra said the three medications together are known to those addicted to prescription medication as the “holy trinity” and are highly sought on the street.
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