Los Angeles News

Parents speak out on prescription drug deaths

Thursday, March 01, 2012
The parents of the patients allegedly killed by Dr. Lisa Tseng are speaking out, one in the form of a documentary. When you think about drug abuse among kids, most dont think about the type of drugs you can find in a medicine cabinet.

A Southern California doctor is facing murder charges Thursday for the overdose deaths of three of her young patients. Dr. Lisa Tseng was the focus of an Eyewitness News investigation one year ago. Wednesday she surrendered her osteopathic license and Thursday she was arrested.

Joseph Rovero III was a patient of Dr. Lisa Tseng. Prosecutors say Tseng recklessly prescribed him a myriad of drugs leading to his death, and the death of at least two others.

Now Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley is charging a woman he calls a "Dr. Feelgood" with three counts of murder.

"Incredible greed, her prolific dispensing of literally thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dangerous drugs," said Cooley.

A Drug Enforcement Administration report says OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax and Valium were all unlawfully distributed by Tseng out of a Rowland Heights office.

In the last several months Tseng settled wrongful death lawsuits with five different Southern California families.

All the victims were men in their 20s who overdosed from drugs provided by Tseng.

"How many times do you need the Orange County coroner to call you up and say, 'One of your patients died,'" said Cooley.

Cooley says because of those past deaths, he can now file murder charges, not involuntary manslaughter.

"Once you know you are doing something that is very reckless that could lead to someone else's death, then that can rise to the point of what they call 'implied malice,'" said Cooley.

Tseng turned over her medical license Wednesday and faces 20 felony counts of prescribing drugs without a purpose.

After her son Jarrod died of an overdose, Jodi Barber approached Tseng inside her Rowland Heights office.

"What she said was, 'Well, don't blame me, its the parents fault.' And I looked at her and I said, 'You know what? You're pathetic, it's not the parents fault, you're the professional, you know better," Barber said.

Barber is now going from high school to high school showing her documentary called "Overtaken."

She hopes the real-life stories of abuse serve as a wake-up call.

"It's not like cancer, where there's no cure for cancer, if we regulate, we can stop this," she said.

Nearly 1 in 10 high school seniors say they've taken Vicodin for non-medical purposes; 1 in 20 admits to abusing OxyContin.

Tseng was being held on $3 million bail and was scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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arrest, murder, homicide investigation, los angeles news, elex michaelson
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