MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities psychiatrist, under the microscope following a WCCO Investigation, gave up his license to practice medicine.
Dr. Faruk Abuzzahab, 85, had been in trouble before for writing excessive amounts of prescriptions to patients, but after WCCO detailed his connection to a Bloomington man’s pill addiction, the doctor resigned.
Now, a family shares their relief and their ongoing frustration at a system that they feel failed them.
“Justice prevailed, but it sure took a long time,” John Arens said.
October will mark two years since John’s brother, Mike, died at the age of 54. His family blames his hip surgery a few years earlier for a prescription drug addiction that would spiral out of control.
“It shouldn’t be that easy,” John said.
WCCO found Dr. Faruk Abuzzahab prescribed Arens at least eight medications, mostly for psychiatric problems but also an opioid to treat pain. It was a decision even the state board of pharmacy questioned.
After Arens got three DWIs in two weeks for driving high on medications, Abuzzahab also lobbied the state to help Arens get his license back.
“It’s hard to understand how he could be in business,” John said.
He isn’t anymore.
Earlier this month, the Minnesota Medical Board temporarily suspended Abuzzahab’s license for “engaging in unethical and unprofessional conduct … engaging in fraudulent billing practices; and prescribing a drug or device for other than medically accepted.”
But before the board could move any further, Abuzzahab resigned his license altogether on his own.
“I’m confident your story made a big difference and put it in the public light, and pushed a decision quicker,” John said.
Still, the Arenses are left to wonder what would have happened had the board stepped in sooner. Abuzzahab’s complaints date back decades.
“If you’re looking for quick answers, it’s not through them,” John said.
When reached for comment by phone, Dr. Abuzzahab hung up.
Under a new law, doctors and pharmacies must have an account in a statewide database to check if patients are filling multiple prescriptions in short periods of time.