US health worker charged for allegedly writing illegal opioid prescriptions

US health worker charged for allegedly writing illegal opioid prescriptions

Prescriptions of opioids as painkillers are contributing to long-term addiction, according to study

By Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON (AA) - A physician assistant was charged Friday in a federal court for allegedly using a deceased doctor’s name to write opioid prescriptions for himself and a relative.

Harry Przekop, 69, of Batavia, Illinois, who formerly worked at a Chicago medical practice, is charged with five counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances, according to a statement by the US Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Illinois.

"An indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago states that Przekop fraudulently obtained prescriptions of hydrocodone and codeine in 2021 and 2022 in Batavia, Ill., and North Aurora, Ill," the statement said.

It added that Przekop was ineligible to write prescriptions because he was not a licensed physician.

Przekop pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for a status hearing on Sept. 22.

The arrest comes as multiple studies find that prescriptions of opioids as painkillers are contributing to the devastating opioid crisis rippling through the US healthcare system.

A pair of studies published in late 2022 argue that prescription painkillers have fueled the epidemic by contributing to long-term addiction.

Sarah Eichmeyer, a professor from Milan, Italy-based Bocconi University who co-authored one of the studies, said in an article published in MedicalExpress on Aug. 2 that her findings "highlight that long-term opioid use, misuse, and dependence can arise as a consequence of small variations in medical care."

"We find evidence that exposure to opioids via a prescription from the ED physician is the instance of medical care most likely to trigger these long-term effects," Eichmeyer said, referring to the Emergency Department.

"At the same time, we do not find evidence for improved health—measured via improvements in pain—due to use of prescription opioids."

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