UPPER EAST SIDE — A neighborhood doctor was busted on Monday for doling out thousands of opioid prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose — even to patients he knew were addicted, federal prosecutors said.
Martin Tesher, 81, who owns a family medical practice less than a block from Central Park at 9 E. 68th St., was arrested at his office Monday morning for writing 14,000 illegal prescriptions for 2.2 million oxycodone pills between June 2012 and January 2017, without any specialized training in pain management, according to a complaint filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
“Dr. Tesher acted no differently than a multi-million dollar heroin ring, distributing more than $20 million worth of opioids,” said James Hunt, the Drug Enforcement Agency's Special Agent-in-Charge. “In fact, by using his position as a family practitioner, he enabled patients seeking help for substance abuse and turned new patients into opioid addicts by writing unnecessary prescriptions in exchange for cash."
A confidential informant told the DEA that Tesher had prescribed him 240 30-milligram oxycodone pills during one visit for a previous surgery, and Tesher kept writing the prescription at subsequent appointments, prosecutors say.
After he found out that the informant was arrested, he cut the prescription down to 150 pills, saying that he wanted to lower the amount. The informant told him during later appointments that he wasn't ready for a lower dosage, so Tesher continued to prescribe about the same number, the complaint states.
Some pharmacies refused to fill the prescriptions as they were written, and Tesher never offered the patient physical therapy for pain or drugs for oxycodone addiction, prosecutors say.
Another informant told the DEA that an unknown patient in the doctor's waiting room told him that he was getting 600 pills a month and was selling them for $35 per pill on the street.
"The male patient told [that informant] to tell the doctor that [he] was taking a lot of pills and buying them off the street in order to get prescribed a lot of pills," the complaint states.
Tesher told the second informant that he believed the informant had an addiction problem because he was taking 15 to 30 narcotics a day, but Tesher prescribed oxycodone anyway, prosecutors said.
Other patients said they were prescribed hundreds of oxycodone pills despite being on other drugs, the complaint states.
"As alleged, Dr. Tesher used his position as a doctor not to heal but to foster opioid addiction,” said Bridget Rohde, the Acting United States Attorney. “This Office and our partners at the DEA will continue to hold medical professionals accountable to the fullest extent of the law whenever they abrogate their duties and contribute to the opioid crisis.”
Teshner was released on Monday after paying a $250,000 bond, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
He was back to work on Tuesday, but did not immediately return a call for comment.