Texas doctor convicted after criminally prescribing more than 1.3 million doses of opioids, feds say

HOUSTON – A federal jury convicted a Houston-area physician for unlawfully prescribing more than 1.3 million doses of opioids, federal authorities announced Oct. 18.

The United States Department of Justice said court documents and evidence presented at trial showed Dr. Parvez Qureshi, 56, of Houston, Texas, “conspired to and did unlawfully prescribe controlled substances from 2014 through February 2016 for patients at Spring Shadows Medical Clinic of Houston (Spring Shadows), a clinic owned by Rubeena Ayesha, an advanced practice nurse practitioner.”

A news release from the DOJ said Ayesha, 52, of Houston, previously pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme and is awaiting sentencing before U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt of the Southern District of Texas.

DOJ, citing trial evidence, said Qureshi issued unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances to more than 90 people on the clinic’s busiest days. So-called “runners” brought numerous people to pose as patients at Spring Shadows and paid for their visits. Spring Shadows charged approximately $250-$500 for each patient visit and required payment in cash, according to the DOJ news release about the conviction.

The DOJ also said in its news release that evidence showed Qureshi pre-signed prescriptions for controlled substances and issued prescriptions for patients who were not evaluated by a physician. Throughout the scheme, federal authorities said Qureshi wrote prescriptions for over 1.3 million dosage units of hydrocodone, and over 40,000 dosage units of oxycodone, both Schedule II controlled substances. Authorities said Ayesha wrote prescriptions for over one million dosage units of carisoprodol, commonly known as Soma, a Schedule IV controlled substance, usually for patients who had also been prescribed oxycodone or hydrocodone by Qureshi.

The DOJ noted the combination of oxycodone/hydrocodone and carisoprodol is a dangerous drug cocktail with no known medical benefit. The clinic made over $4 million from prescriptions issued in the scheme, over $1.5 million of which went to Qureshi, according to a news release from authorities

Qureshi was convicted of one count of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances and four counts of unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10, 2022, and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison per count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Devon Helfmeyer and Monica Cooper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.