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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Patient Sues Doc Known as ‘Candy Man’

SANTA BARBARA (CN) - Eleven patients of a doctor known as the "candy man" died of drug overdoses, and his overprescriptions got another patient addicted, a woman claims in court.

Courtney Canter sued Dr. Julio Gabriel Diaz and the three pharmacy chains that filled her prescriptions - Walgreen, CVS Caremark and Longs Drug Stores, in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

Diaz was arrested on federal drug trafficking charges in early 2012, according to the lawsuit. The 75-page arrest affidavit "describes in discomforting detail the overprescribing practices of Dr. Diaz, identifies at least 11 overdose deaths of patients under Dr. Diaz's care, and depicts Dr. Diaz as a drug-dealing doctor known to some patients as 'the candy man,'" Canter says in the complaint.

Diaz's medical license was revoked. In September 24 this year, facing 47 criminal charges, Diaz pleaded guilty to illegally prescribing a controlled substance, failure to maintain proper security and storage, and two counts of illegally prescribing a narcotic, according to the Hartford Courant.

Canter claims that when she was Diaz's patient, he put he on "a pain management regimen that consisted of a complex combination of highly addictive, dangerous medications in increasingly higher dosages over time, and a course of treatment that fell woefully below the level of skill, knowledge and care in diagnosis and treatment."

Among other things, Diaz failed to conduct a risk of substance abuse assessment, failed to monitor and reassess Canter's treatment, failed to individualize the selection and dosing of medication, and failed to consider weaning Canter off the medication "when faced with evidence of aberrant drug-related behaviors or drug abuse," according to the complaint.

She claims she became addicted to drugs, which led to "compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences, and compromised her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs and their ability to appreciate the harmful effects of those drugs."

Canter claims the defendant pharmacies failed to determine whether the drugs were "filled for a legitimate medical purpose and were not being dispensed to an addict."

She claims she did not realize the harmful effects of the prescribed drugs until she fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

She claims she has "suffered physical and psychological consequences of drug addiction, to the point that hospitalizations, detoxification and rehabilitation were required, and as a result has suffered, and will continue to suffer, great physical and emotional pain and suffering."

She seeks damages for medical malpractice.

She is represented by Richard T. Collins, with Berger Kahn, of Irvine.

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