By Ed Coghlan.
The Drug Enforcement Administration continues to pressure physicians it believes are over-prescribing opioid medication.
This week, they chose one well known to some intractable pain patients – Dr. Forest Tennant of West Covina, California.
“Federal authorities executed federal search warrants as part of an ongoing investigation,” U.S. District Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek confirmed in an email to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “No charges have been filed at this time.”
Tennant is a controversial figure – one who speaks and testifies around the country on the benefits of opioid medication – at a time when the DEA and other government agencies are openly cracking down on physicians and pharmacies.
The DEA also looking at a pharmacy in the Los Angeles area that it believes was filling prescriptions for painkillers for multiple doctors.
DEA investigators believe the pharmacy, Dr. Tennant and some other medical practitioners are profiting from the illicit diversion of controlled substance. The warrant sought to seize drugs – like fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone – documents and records related to the distribution of painkillers, as well as financial records of payments sent or received by doctors.
The DEA is also looking into Tennant’s relationship with Insys Therapeutic, which produces a fentanyl-based nasal spray. Tennant received consulting fees, speaking fees and food and travel reimbursements from the company – which are not uncommon.
Insys has its own problems recently when several of its executives – including its founder – were recently indicted for racketeering. They are accused of offering kickbacks to doctors to write large numbers of prescriptions for a fentanyl-based pain medication that’s meant for cancer patients. Most people who received prescriptions did not have cancer.
Tennant has come under scrutiny by state and federal authorities before.
As the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported, “In 1997, he was fined $625,000 after federal investigators could not fully account for methadone supplies at a chain of clinics he owned. Methadone is an opioid commonly used to reduce withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin.”
Tennant has some powerful supporters in the chronic pain community, including Terri Lewis, PhD whose has written extensively on chronic pain in the National Pain Report.
“Every pain organization, media outlet, and stakeholder must act,” she said.
Her full essay on the issue will be published tomorrow (Sunday) on the National Pain Report.
The raid on Tennant’s office occurred Wednesday, while he was in Montana where he testified for a doctor who was on trial for negligent homicide in connection with his opioid prescribing.