Physician, 75, Faces Felony Drug Charges

A 75-year-old doctor will be arraigned March 7 in Santa Anita Municipal Court on 12 felony counts of violating state laws in connection with the prescription of controlled narcotics.

Dr. Donald Medaris was arrested at his office at 638 W. Duarte Road last week after a four-month undercover investigation by the Arcadia Police Department, the district attorney's office and state Board of Medical Quality Assurance.

Undercover investigators allege that they were able to obtain prescriptions from Medaris for 1,000 tablets of controlled drugs, including tranquilizers and sleeping pills, without medical need. A member of his staff said Medaris was unavailable for comment. He is free on $5,000 bail.

The state medical board placed Medaris on probation from 1980 to 1983 for gross negligence and incompetence, board spokesman John Martinez said. Martinez said the general practitioner was using chelation therapy on a patient who was told he had heart disease.

Martinez said chelation, the injection of a drug to eliminate heavy metals such as lead in the system, is an unacceptable treatment of heart disease and that the patient did not suffer from the condition for which Medaris was treating him.

As a condition of his probation, Medaris was restricted in his application of chelating drugs and was required to complete additional medical training.

Apart from the criminal charges in the narcotics-prescription case, Martinez said, Medaris will face an administrative hearing before the state medical board as a result of his arrest. Medaris' license could be suspended or revoked.

If convicted on the criminal charges, Medaris could face a prison term of more than three years, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Terry Green. A fine or probation are alternatives to prison.

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