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Physician’s assistant convicted on opioid charges

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A San Leandro physician’s assistant who authorities said was the number one prescriber of opioids in California was convicted Tuesday of 39 counts of distributing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose, prosecutors said.

Jurors at a trial in U.S. District Court in Oakland found that David Lague, 61, of San Mateo, prescribed oxycodone pills on two occasions to a patient who had told Lague that he intended to sell the pills to make a profit, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition, the jury concluded that Lague, who formerly practiced in San Leandro, had prescribed potent and highly addictive controlled substances to four other patients in a manner that he knew was not medically legitimate, prosecutors said.

However, the jury acquitted Lague of health care fraud charges in connection with his fentanyl prescriptions to one of the four patients.

The substances that prosecutors said Lague distributed were oxycodone, oxymorphone, methadone, amphetamines, clonazepam, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, hydrocodone, alprazolam and carisoprodol.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said evidence presented at Lague’s trial showed that he was the number one prescriber of opioids in the state in 2015 and 2016, according to Medicare records.

Prosecutors said Lague prescribed more than 1.6 million controlled substance pills, of which more than 1.4 million were in the most dangerous and abused category according to U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency guidelines.

Undercover videotapes showed Lague prescribing pills to an informant without asking any questions about the patient’s health or performing any physical examinations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition, evidence from medical records showed that Lague was prescribing controlled substances to other patients despite clear signs that they were addicted, prosecutors said.

Lague faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million for each of the 39 counts for which he was convicted when he’s sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Haywood Gilliam on Oct. 22.

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