Did a NYC doctor cause patient deaths with 'Holy Trinity' of pills?

Dr. Choy in Wisconsin  after being extradited back to New York City

Investigators say from 2012 to 2017, Dr. Lawrence Choy prescribed almost 1 million pills known as the "Holy Trinity", an addictive deadly cocktail of Oxycodone, Xanax and the muscle relaxer Somo. He was extradited back to NY earlier this week.

The three patients died between 2013 and 2016.

"After 30-plus years in law enforcement I never thought I'd see the day where doctors and drug dealers were interchangeable", James Hunt, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in NY, said in announcing the charges. The indictment contains a total of 231 counts, including two counts of second-degree manslaughter, nine counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and 220 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.

The DEA says that while Choy was under investigation, he abandoned his practice and moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Two of the deaths - Eliot Castillo, 35 and Michael Ries, 30 - suffered fatal overdoses within three days of receiving their prescriptions from Choy, the government alleges.

Ries, who died in 2014, was involved in multiple auto accidents and suffered multiple overdoses where he had to be revived by emergency responders, according to investigators. Brennan said Choy then shifted into pain management and began issuing large numbers of prescriptions to patients, some of whom had genuine pain issues.

Dr. Choy had been a licensed physician since 1981.

Authorities say Castillo and Ries were prescribed high doses of oxycodone, which is a potent and addictive opioid painkiller, and Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication.

Dr. Choy's prescriptions were filed at pharmacies in New York City, upstate New York, Long Island and New Jersey. Eventually, police in New York City and state, Queens, Suffolk and Nassau counties became involved. Choy left his practice suddenly in June of 2017, leaving the Flushing office in a state of disarray and moving to Wisconsin. Those three drugs together are known to doctors as the "Holy Trinity", she said.

When these drugs are taken together, they are believed to increase the risk of overdose. The investigation further revealed that Choy received reports about patients' involvement in accidents, including motor vehicle accidents, participation in substance abuse treatment programs, and receipt of prescriptions from other prescribers and continued to prescribe addictive medications to these patients.

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