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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-092

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

VENTURA COUNTY DOCTOR SENTENCED TO 41 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ILLEGALLY DISTRIBUTING OXYCONTIN


Los Angeles, CA - A Ventura County physician who illegally prescribed the powerful painkiller Oxycontin was sentenced this afternoon to 41 months in federal prison.

Michael Huff, 58, of Oxnard, received the sentence after pleading guilty in April 2006 to illegally distributing a controlled substance. Huff was sentenced by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess, who ordered the defendant to begin serving his sentence on September 26.

Huff received the sentenced after admitting that he wrote prescriptions for a Boston man for, among other things, 2000 Oxycontin tablets. Huff admitted that he never treated the man at his Oxnard medical office and that there was no medical purpose for prescribing the powerful painkiller.

The Ventura pharmacist who illegally filled many of Huff's prescriptions was also sentenced this afternoon. Richard Ozar, 61,of Newberry Park, was sentenced by Judge Feess to three years of probation, which will include six months of home detention. Ozar also pleaded guilty in April, admitting that he sold the prescription painkiller Fentanyl to the same East Coast man who was not examined by Huff and who had no medical need for the drug. The case against Ozar is one of the first of its kind in the country.

Both Huff and Ozar agreed to surrender their respective medical and pharmacy licenses as part of their guilty pleas.

Over the past several years, there has been a significant rise in the abuse and illegal sale of controlled substances like Oxycontin, a drug whose euphoric effect is similar to heroin. Fentanyl, another opiate, is typically prescribed for the treatment of cancer patients experiencing short periods of high-intensity pain. Oxycontin and Fentanyl fall within the class of prescription drugs that have the highest potential for abuse of any drug approved for medical use in the United States. Due to the danger of physical and psychological abuse or dependence, medical professionals have developed standards of care for the long-term treatment of pain patients. Both Huff and Ozar admitted that Huff's treatment of the Boston man was not in compliance with well-established and generally accepted medical guidelines, and the drugs were prescribed without any legitimate medical purpose. Huff admitted that he prescribed the Oxycontin without conducting a thorough physical examination or any medical/diagnostic tests, and that the patient had not been to Huff's medical clinic for at least nine months prior to the writing of Oxycontin prescription.

Ozar admitted knowing that the Fentanyl was not for a legitimate medical purpose, partially because Huff had written prescriptions for large quantities of various controlled substances and the patient paid for the drugs with large cashiers checks bearing the names of other people.

The case against Huff and Ozar is the result of an investigation by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement and the Burbank Police Department, which received assistance from IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, the California Medical Board and the California Board of Pharmacy.

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Release No. 06-092

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