A federal jury in Columbus convicted an Ohio doctor yesterday for illegally prescribing buprenorphine and other controlled substances in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Eskender Getachew, 58, of Galena, unlawfully prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines to his patients. This included prescribing Subutex, which has a high risk of abuse and diversion, to patients for whom the drug is not indicated. The number of pills Getachew prescribed depended on the amount of money patients paid at their office visits. Getachew was aware of several reports that patients were selling their Subutex, but his prescribing continued unabated.

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The jury convicted Getachew of 11 counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count. A sentencing date has not yet been set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio; Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the DEA Detroit Division; Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Special Agent in Charge Mario M. Pinto of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Chicago Regional Office made the announcement. 

The DEA, FBI, HHS-OIG, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and Ohio Board of Pharmacy investigated the case.