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Deaths linked to CA doctor accused of recklessly prescribing painkillers

Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2011

As California's top prescriber of narcotic painkillers and other commonly abused drugs, Dr. Nazar Al Bussam made hundreds of thousands of dollars feeding the addictions of strung-out patients who packed into his offices in Downey and Los Angeles, according to authorities. Federal prosecutors concluded it was "pure luck" that his reckless prescribing had not resulted in any known deaths. A Los Angeles Times review of coroners' records, however, reveals that at least three of the doctor's patients died of drug overdoses in 2007 and 2008. Two other people died -- one from an overdose, the other by falling off a cliff -- with drugs in their systems and pill bottles bearing Al Bussam's name in their possession. A judge is expected to sentence Al Bussam on Wednesday. Prosecutors have asked for nearly 20 years in prison for the 71-year-old physician, arguing that his conduct was worse than that of a street corner drug dealer.