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Date Posted: 00:14:12 02/26/04 Thu
Author: Billy
Subject: Doctor draws fine, sanctions for Internet prescriptions
In reply to: Himmel 's message, "Doctor jailed for two years" on 23:11:05 02/21/04 Sat

Doctor draws fine, sanctions for Internet prescriptions

By Pete Alfano

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners has fined Dr. Hector Oscar Molina of Colleyville $25,000 and placed restrictions on his practice for three years for prescribing controlled substances and dangerous drugs over the Internet without establishing "a proper physician-patient relationship."

Molina, who has a general practice in Irving, will be prohibited from prescribing Schedule II and III controlled substances, among them medications such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxydone (Percodan), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and anabolic steroids. Controlled substances are drugs with a high potential for abuse and which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Molina must also establish a proper physician-patient relationship with all patients in his practice, which requires him to "personally and physically see, examine, diagnose and treat every patient in person."

The board's order also stipulates that Molina, who is listed as 39 years old, must score at least a 75 on the Medical Jurisprudence Exam within the next year in order to be licensed in the state. He can take the exam three times.

Molina did not return messages left with his receptionist at his office in Irving.

The action was initiated when a complaint was filed with the medical board by a Colorado man who received drugs prescribed by Molina from the unregulated Internet pharmacy, www.prescriptionconsultation.com. It is no longer operating under that name.

An undocumented number of doctors supplement their incomes by as much as several thousand dollars a month writing prescriptions for unregulated online pharmacies based on a questionnaire completed by patients.

According to the complaint, which is posted on the state medical board Web site, the patient obtained hydrocodone and other medications in increasingly stronger dosages. The original orders and refills were authorized by Molina.

The complaint says that the patient was also being treated by his own physicians at the time and became addicted to the medications.

According to the state medical board, Molina, who was licensed in Texas in August 1997, violated the proper physician-patient relationship because he prescribed the drugs without having examined the patient, taken a proper history, acquired adequate medical records and performed adequate tests.

Ordering prescription medication from unregulated Web sites is seen by U.S. authorities as an increasingly dangerous practice. Patients circumvent registered pharmacies and their own doctors because they believe they can save money and also acquire drugs their doctors may not be willing to prescribe.

Federal agencies and physicians and pharmacy groups warn that patients should take medications only under a doctor's supervision and that medications from unregulated online pharmacies may be counterfeit, substandard or tainted.

In Texas, an advisory commission has recommended that the State Board of Pharmacy be granted more authority to regulate out-of-state and online pharmacies, including the power to discipline these pharmacies.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration and Texas Pharmacy Association launched an education campaign warning consumers about the risks associated with ordering drugs from other countries and on the Internet.

Because tracking unregulated pharmacies in cyberspace is difficult, costly and time consuming, state medical boards and federal agencies such as the FDA and Drug Enforcement Administration rely heavily on patient complaints to prosecute cases.

One such case involved Dr. Robert C. Ogle of Rockwall, who surrendered his license in December and is awaiting sentencing March 24 for prescribing hydrocodone to a California teen-ager who died when he mixed the drug with morphine and an antidepressant. The teen-ager had lied about his age when filling out an online questionnaire.

A spokeswoman for the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners said that information about doctors who prescribe drugs on the Internet is shared among states and national physician associations. Local hospitals where physicians may work are also notified.

According to the state board of examiners, Texas physicians R.L. Nelms, Kenneth Speak, Ernesto Cantu and David L. Bryson have lost their licenses for prescribing medications through unregulated online pharmacies.

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