Jarrod Barber was taken over by immense sadness.
He was smoking more and more marijuana and experimenting with pills lately as his friend just died of cancer.
Barber overdosed to a fatal level on Jan. 8, 2010, by having a cocktail of Opana, a narcotic painkiller, Clonazepam, an anticonvulsant and Seroquel, an anti-psychotic, coroner’s records show.
Prescription drugs are being abused a lot nationally among teens and young adults. Experts say that the names of doctors who can be easily approached for prescription narcotics spread quickly among teenagers. Some teens get a stock of prescription drugs and then sell those pills in the neighborhood to finance their own habit.
Barber didn’t have a prescription for the Opana. Jodi Barber, Jarrod’s mother, believes that he purchased it from a now-deceased friend who was a patient of Dr. Lisa Tseng of Rowland Heights. Details of other drugs are pretty clear: Dr. Paul D. Corona of Laguna Niguel prescribed the Clonazepam and Seroquel.
Coroner’s records show that drugs prescribed by Tseng that also include Xanax, methadone and morphine, were found in the bodies of three victims who died of fatal overdose in Orange County since 2000. Additionally, Jarrod Barber and Ryan Winter, the parents of two other dead youths, blame Tseng for the drugs that led to their overdoses. Jodi Barber has taken her suspicions to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
In August, after discovering that Tseng had written more than 27,000 prescriptions over a period of 3 years, federal agents had revoked Tseng’s license and he could no longer prescribe narcotics.
Unlike Tseng, Corona, who specializes in the treatment of mood disorders, has not been targeted by the state medical investigators or federal drug authorities. As per records, Corona is on five years probation with the state medical board for using drugs to treat his own manic disorder. Also, a lawsuit was filed in Orange County Superior Court in 2007, in which he was accused of being negligent and responsible for a wrongful death as he treated a woman who crashed her car while driving under the influence of prescription drugs, killing a young mother.
Corona is praised by some local doctors for his work, but a psychiatric expert who testified in the 2007 case said that Corona has no formal training in psychology and that he practices outside the scope of his training as a general practitioner. Two addiction experts, in an interview criticized Corona’s wide use of psychotropic drugs in treating people who are already hooked on controlled substances.
Dr. Harry Haroutunian, physician at the famed Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, says that it is extremely dangerous to prescribe drugs with sedative qualities to treat addicts in a setting, where they might score more drugs on the street.
Public documents show that Corona’s personal and professional lives have seen a steep downfall over the last several years.
On Dec. 17, 2007, when Orange County Sheriff’s deputies visited Corona’s Laguna Niguel home, they found him in his backyard having a psychotic breakdown and threatening suicide, shown in an accusation from the Medical Board of California.
Corona was hospitalized for almost a month for psychological observation post that.
It was the same year that he published a book called ‘Healing the Mind and Body’ which was about treating mood disorders.
In 2008 , Corona said in an interview with the Medical Board, that he suffered with hypomania three years ago. State documents say that he was prescribed Seroquel by his psychiatrist, but he started self-medicating from his sample drugs after the psychiatrist was no longer available.
The state complaint said that his disorder has impacted his ability to practice safely. Corona was thus put on probation for five years in the year 2009.
In 2008, Corona opened a new office and focused on treating neuro-chemical imbalances that prevent the brain from reaching the WOW state.
Corona sees about 500 patients a month at his suite, in a business center off the Ivy Glenn Drive.
Before he was hospitalized in 2007, Corona claimed to have a 10,000 square foot office having three other doctors. After his mental problems appeared in 2008, he opened the solo practice.
Patient Madelyn Picascio, 72, from Laguna Niguel said that Corona cured her of deep depression.
His treatment is way better than any psychologist, Picascio said.
Montano says that Dr. Corona is a wonderful mental health physician and gets some of the worst cases referred at his clinic for further treatment.
Not all experts in this field agree with his approach though.
Corona was one of the doctors in treating the case of a mentally ill woman, Janene K. Johns, in August 2006. Johns slept behind the wheel with sedatives in her system and killed a young mother in Newport Beach, as per public documents.
The family of the victim, Candace Tift, is trying to sue Corona and Johns’ other physician, Dr. Jeffrey Barke, for wrongful death.
None of the drugs prescribed by Corona were in Johns’ body system, according to the toxicological report, the family’s attorney still alleges her doctors of not preventing her from driving as she was severely ill.
Attorney Sidney Martin, who is defending both doctors, said that there was no negligence on the part of Dr. Barke and Dr. Corona.
Dominick Addario, a psychiatrist and professor at University of California, San Diego, testified that Corona has no formal training in psychology and that his assessment and treatment for Ms. Johns’ was ludicrous.
Court documents say that Corona prescribed Seroquel to her, which is commonly used for treating schizophrenia and had given her a two-week supply from his samples.
Addario said that the accident could be avoided if Corona had been more diligent.
On the other hand, Corona testified that he didn’t recall talking to Johns about the details of her psychotic breakdown.
In Jarrod’s case in October 2009, Corona had prescribed Clonazepam, the antidepressant Pristiq and the antidepressant Cymbalta, as per the treatment chronology that Corona had sent to the Register.
Corona saw Jarrod again two days before his death and prescribed Seroquel because it is not an addictive drug and could potentially help to decrease his anxiety and improve his sleep and appetite.
Haroutunian and Kruszewski questioned on the prescription of Seroquel to someone taking Clonazepam, as both act as sedatives.
Haroutunian said that Seroquel and Clonazepam are a bad mix together and depress the central nervous system.
Jarrod apparently took three pills on the night he died, which was the prescribed dosage, along with the illegally obtained Opana, which is a pain-killer. He also had Clonazepam and marijuana in his system, according to a toxicological report.
Corona says that he didn’t prescribe Clonazepam and the Seroquel to be taken simultaneously. If someone chooses to do it anyway, against his advice, it is not his fault.
Dr. Corona, at present is adding the finishing touches on his second book on treating addiction and mood disorders. The book is aimed at physicians and will be titled, ‘Healing the Mind and Body, Part 2’.
He looks forward to finishing his probation with the medical board at the earliest.
Jarrod Barber was taken over by immense sadness.
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