NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco County doctor has been arrested on 12 counts of operating an unregistered pain-management clinic, and more charges could be coming because at least 16 patients with connections to him died of overdoses, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
The sheriff’s office had been investigating Malcolm Colburn Foster, 62, since 2012 and his arrest Wednesday came after investigators combed through records of more than 1,350 patients, most of whom were being prescribed unusually high doses of pain medication, the sheriff’s office said.
Foster was booked into the Land O’ Lakes Jail and later released on bond.
“This is a person we arrested who does not deserve the title of doctor,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said at an afternoon news conference.
In investigating Foster, the sheriff’s office relied on a Florida statute that lawmakers passed in 2011 to try to regulate rogue pain clinics and the over-prescribing of pills. The law requires medical doctors who prescribe medication for pain to more than 50 percent of their patients to receive specialized training and licensing.
Foster, who operated a pain clinic on U.S. 19 in Port Richey, did not register with the Florida Department of Health or receive the training, the sheriff’s office said.
Foster has had other troubles as well, the sheriff said. At the same time the sheriff’s office was conducting its criminal investigation, the Department of Health was conducting a separate investigation into Foster’s medication practices and an allegation that he had a sexual relationship with a patient who Foster knew was a victim of prior sexual abuse, the sheriff’s office reported.
In October 2012, the Department of Health revoked Foster’s medical license for those violations, the sheriff’s office reported. He has not practiced medicine since, but the sheriff’s office continued its investigation.
One of Foster’s patients who died was Jeremy Coyle, 31, of Port Richey. Coyle, a “tremendous athlete,” had knee surgery when he lived in New York and became addicted to the pain medication he took after that surgery, said his father, Ross Coyle.
A doctor in New York had been treating him to help Jeremy Coyle overcome his addiction to opiates, and when he moved to Florida and began seeing Foster those records of his treatment for addiction came with him, the father said.
Instead of helping his son deal with the addiction, Foster prescribed him even more pain medicine and increased the dosage, Ross Coyle said.
“We feel it’s criminal,” he said.