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State Seeks Suspension of Doctor's License

Hearing: Colton physician accused of prescribing drugs over Internet is the son of SLA slaying victim.

April 17, 2002|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A judge in San Diego was asked Tuesday to suspend the medical license of a Colton doctor accused of prescribing drugs over the Internet and ignoring an earlier order to stop doing so.

Dr. Jon Steven Opsahl is the son of Myrna Opsahl, who was slain by Symbionese Liberation Army members during a 1975 bank robbery near Sacramento. Earlier this year, five people, including accused SLA member Sara Jane Olson, were charged in connection with the slaying.

Opsahl, 41, of Riverside, is medical director of the OptiHealth Wellness Center, a facility in Colton that specializes in treating chemical dependency and weight problems.

Deputy Atty. Gen. Mary Agnes Matyszewski said Opsahl first came to the attention of state investigators last fall when he wrote 15 Internet prescriptions for the drug Cipro for people who feared that they had been exposed to anthrax.

Matyszewski said Opsahl agreed in December to comply with a state order to stop prescribing drugs over the Internet.

However, Matyszewski said California officials were contacted in early March by the Wisconsin attorney general's office, which said a woman there had overdosed on pain medications prescribed by Opsahl after she found the doctor on the Internet. The woman lapsed into a coma and, although she regained consciousness, she has not fully recovered, Matyszewski said.

Opsahl took the stand Tuesday at his hearing before administrative law judge Stephen Hjelt, admitting that although he talked to the woman on the telephone, he never examined her in person, prosecutors said.

Matyszewski said Hjelt commented that the telephone conversation did not appear to constitute the "good-faith examination" required under state law for the prescription of drugs. Hjelt took the matter under submission.

Opsahl could not be reached for comment.

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