Federal Grand Jury Indicts California Physician and His Former Assistant for Diluting and Even Withholding HIV/AIDS Medications While Billing for Full Dosages

Earlier this week, a federal grand jury in California indicted Orange County physician Dr. George Kooshian and his assistant, Virgil Opinion, for intentionally giving AIDS patients lower than the prescribed doses of medications while billing insurance companies for the cost of full treatments. 

Allegedly, Kooshian ordered Opinion and other staff members to administer medication at 50% or even 25% of the prescribed dosage. In some cases, he is even accused of ordering saline or water injections be given in place of actual medication.

An investigation into Kooshian’s offenses did not begin until after Opinion left her job in 2001. At that time, Opinion and a former patient Bryan Noble filed lawsuits stating that Kooshian charged as much as $7,000 dollars for treatments of saline.

 In a 2001 interview with the OC Weekly, Opinion made the accusations public. According to U.S. Attorney Jeannie Joseph, the law suits were settled for an undisclosed amount. 

Joseph argues that while Kooshian’s actions may not directly have caused deaths, his preying upon vulnerable and suffering patients caused unnecessary distress for those who put their care in his hands.  She remarks "We can’t say with any certainty that what he did caused anyone’s death, but it certainly affected his patients’ quality of life."

A review of the history of the case, including coverage of the investigation into the allegations of Opinion’s 2001 interview can be found in the current issue of the OC Weekly.

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