TX: Houston doctor who prescribed more than 1.3 million doses of opioids faces lengthy prison term

The geriatric physician from Houston, was convicted in October 2021 of selling millions of doses of opioids to his patients, many of whom never had an appointment.

His lawyer portrayed the Houston doctor as a “caring and compassionate” practitioner who deftly navigated the complex field of pain management.

Federal prosecutors viewed him as a con artist, who bilked patients by offering them dangerous and illegal drug combinations, often without an in person examination.

A federal jury this week found Dr. Parvez Anjum Qureshi guilty of prescribing more than 1.3 million doses of opioids through a strip mall clinic on Gessner in Spring Branch, according to a Justice Department news release. On a busy day, the doctor sometimes doled out more than 90 unlawful prescriptions to “patients,” prosecutors said.

The 56-year-old a geriatric and family medicine specialist was convicted of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances between 2014 and 2016 to patients at Spring Shadows Medical Clinic of Houston. A fellow clinic employee, Rubeena Ayesha, 52, of Houston, previously pleaded guilty to aiding in the pill mill scheme.

Christopher J. Downey, Qureshi’s attorney, said his legal team disagrees “tremendously with the jury’s verdict,” adding, “We simply do not believe it is warranted by the facts.”

“Dr. Qureshi has dedicated his career to being a caring and compassionate physician,” Downey said. “The field of pain management is an exceptionally complex area of medicine. It is made even more complicated by law enforcement’s apparent willingness to second guess every decision made by a physician in the treatment of pain.”

The doctor, who has practiced medicine for more than two decades in Texas, faces up to 20 years in prison at his sentencing set for Jan. 10, 2022. A previous trial for Qureshi in 2020 ended in a mistrial since the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

The clinic, which was located at 2549 Gessner Road, took in more than $4 million from these prescriptions and more than $1.5 million of that money went to Qureshi, according to testimony before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt.

Witnesses at the five-day trial testified that patients forked over $250 to $500 in cash for an “appointment,” with Qureshi, but many were never seen by the doctor, according to the news release. In all, Qureshi authorized prescriptions for more than 1.3 million doses of hydrocodone, and more than 40,000 doses of oxycodone. Ayesha , an advance nurse practitioner, prescribed more than one million doses of carisoprodol, often to patients who had received oxycodone or hydrocodone prescriptions from Qureshi.

Justice officials said the combination of oxycodone or hydrocodone and carisoprodol is “a dangerous drug cocktail with no known medical benefit.”

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