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Two Doctors Indicted on Illegal Prescription Counts

Two Los Angeles-area physicians have been indicted by a federal grand jury as part of a continuing crackdown on doctors and others who illegally prescribe drugs, prosecutors said Thursday.

Named in separate indictments alleging the unlawful distribution of controlled substances were Dr. Mesfin Seyoum, 37, of Inglewood, and Dr. Kanu Devshandra Sharma, 31, of Sun Valley.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Joyce A. Karlin said Seyoum was charged in an 84-count indictment with illegally dispensing Preludin, a stimulant; Dilaudid, a habit-forming painkiller; Ritalin, a stimulant, and other controlled drugs between 1983 and last year.

Sharma was named in an Oct. 13 indictment charging him with 13 counts of illegally prescribing codeine-based drugs and other controlled substances between March 19 and July 1 of this year, Karlin said.

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Federal authorities mounted a campaign three years ago--dubbed Operation Rx--to stem the massive illegal prescription of drugs in California, which some officials estimate exceeds $1 billion a year.

Undercover agents for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration have posed as patients who approach doctors and offer an average of $150 for an illegal prescription of drugs, federal authorities said.


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