WEST HOLLYWOOD —A West Hollywood psychiatrist and his office manager could face up to 20 years of jail time for illegally authorizing thousands of prescription drugs to people who were allegedly not patients.
Dr. Nathan Kuemmerle, 37, was arrested without incident on Tuesday, April 13, for allegedly writing 14,529 prescriptions of medications, including Adderall and Xanax to patients he never examined.
Antonie “Tony” Phillips, 28, was also arrested without incident for participating in the illegal act.
In a prepared statement, Timothy J. Landrum from the Drug Enforcement Administration said, “The misuse of prescription drugs remains a great cause of concern. In 2008, there were 2.5 million people aged 12 and older who used prescription drugs non-medically for the first time—that is almost 7,000 new users every day. It is unfortunate that any physician would abuse their position of trust in our communities by irresponsibly prescribing these powerful drugs. The DEA is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure physicians such as Dr. Kuemmerle are brought to justice.”
According to a press release from the DEA, the investigation concluded that Kuemmerle ran the “pill mill” in his West Hollywood clinic from January 2006 to November 2009. The case, which was handled by both the DEA and the Redondo Beach Police Department, included informants and undercover techniques that helped develop the 98-page affidavit.
“Kuemmerle received” patients’ without appointments, wrote the prescriptions during meetings that lasted only a few minutes and took the cash payments that he simply stuffed into his pockets,” said the release.
The DEA also stated that Kuemmerle wrote more prescriptions for the largest available dosage of Adderall than any other doctor in California. He was also the state’s second-largest to prescribe drugs including Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Alprazolam.
Evidence from the investigation showed that Phillips initially discussed what drugs the “patients” wanted, and often prepared prescriptions for Kuemmerle’s signature.
A San Diego-based psychiatrist, Dr. Steve Ornish said, “Dr. Kuemmerle’s professional conduct has been egregious, grossly negligent, flagrantly incompetent and dangerous, and this is not a close call.”
Kuemmerle, who resides in Hollywood, specializes in psychiatry and received his medical license in 2004. He operates his clinic on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.
Phillips resides in the Los Angeles district, Koreatown, and is Kuemmerle’s office manager.