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Tucson doctor indicted for unlawfully prescribing opioids

A Tucson doctor whose license was suspended last year has been indicted for allegedly prescribing painkillers despite being prohibited from doing so by the Arizona Medical Board. David Alan Ruben of Healthcare Southwest has a lengthy disciplinary record for his handling of opioid prescriptions.

Ruben's ability to prescribe opioids was suspended by state medical authorities in 2016, but the doctor, who has run a pain-management clinic on Tucson's South Side, continued to write prescriptions for hydrocodone and oxycodone, a statement about the indictment from the Arizona Attorney General's Office said.

Ruben's medical license was suspended in April 2017 because of his continued issuing of opioid prescriptions, according to Arizona Medical Board records.

Ruben told state investigators that he did not know that Norco and percocet were Schedule II controlled substances, board records said.

"Dr. Ruben was prohibited from prescribing, administering, or dispensing any Schedule II controlled substance for two years. Despite the order, Dr. Ruben allegedly prescribed hydrocodone and oxycodone to 11 different patients on 25 separate occasions between September 2016 and March 2017," the statement from AG Mark Brnovich's office said.

Ruben, a medical doctor and board-certified psychiatrist, was indicted by a grand jury on 26 felony charges, including Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices and Administration of Narcotic Drugs, the news release said.

Ruben could not be immediately reached for comment.

The doctor, a 1974 graduate of the University of Arizona Medical School, has a history of being disciplined by the state Medical Board.

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In 2009, he was given a letter of reprimand and probation, and required to complete 15-20 hours of continuing education in pain management, because of what the board said was "prescribing high dose opioids without proper indication and for failure to timely use objectivemeasures to assess compliance with treatment even after being aware of a patient's cocaine addiction."

In 2010, Ruben was censured by the board, put on probation for two years and restricted from prescribing opioids for a year.

In 2013, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration suspended Ruben's DEA certification for a year because of "inappropriate prescribing," Medical Board records said.

In 2016, the board again disciplined him, after several pharmacies complained that he was over-prescribing controlled substances.

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