A Georgia psychiatrist was arrested last week after three dozen of his patients turned up dead. Twelve of them were found to have died from direct overdosing on prescribed medications that came from the free-flowing script of Dr. Narenda Nagareddy, a psychiatrist practicing in Jonesboro, just south of Atlanta, in Clayton County.
Reports WSB TV out of Atlanta on Jan. 15: “A mother says her daughter would be alive if a local psychiatrist had not given her two prescriptions. Audrey Austin is one of 36 of Dr. Narenda Nagareddy’s patients who died.”
On Thursday, nearly 40 federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents and local police officials converged on the office and later the home of Nagareddy. He was taken into custody without incident and charged with multiple violations of Georgia’s Controlled Substance Act. Video shows agents taking the handcuffed doctor out with local news reporters asking Nagareddy if he “broke the law.”
According to the Clayton County District Attorney, a dozen of the psychiatrist’s patients “were autopsied with cause of death being overdose on prescription medication.” Clayton County Police Chief Mike Register said Nagareddy has been “overprescribing opiates and benzodiazepine and the last several years has had a multitude of overdoses and overdose deaths.”
Police were alerted to the “pill mill” that Nagareddy was running after the mother of two young boys, Audrey Austin, overdosed on two medications that the psychiatrist had prescribed for her just one day earlier. Austin visited Nagareddy back on Feb. 20 of 2014. The next day, she was found dead.
According to Austin’s mother Ruth Carr, her daughter was addicted to prescription medications, and Nagareddy enabled her compulsion by prescribing unneeded meds that he was not even authorized under state law to give out.
“She was an addict and he made it very easy for her,” Carr said. “I knew that he was doing this with people other than my daughter. I knew that she wasn’t the only one.”
In fact, a number of reviews listed online for Dr. Narenda Nagareddy indicate that multiple individuals and former patients complained about the psychiatrist’s pill pushing ways. One individual back in 2010 wrote on RateMDs.com: “This Dr. is nothing but a drug pusher. Instead of helping my disorder, he kept me wasted on seven different drugs… If you want drugs, this is your guy, if you want help keep looking or you’ll end up in rehab.”
According to WSB TV, documents obtained show that both current and former state patients of Nagareddy have admitted to “obtaining controlled substance prescriptions… without having a legitimate medical need.” Police chief Register said: “People come to this person for help, and instead of getting help, they’re met with deadly consequences. If the allegations are true, he is Dr. Death, no doubt about it.”
Another patient of Nagareddy’s wrote on Vitals.com that they gave the doctor $75 for “basically the 60 seconds it takes to fill out a prescription… It’s by no means a personal, ‘open up and tell me what’s going on’ type of relationship.’ It’s a ‘hurry pay me’ on his end, and a ‘hurry write the RXs so I can leave’ on my end!”
While a number of reviewers also praise the doctor, one patient wrote back in 2012:
This guy is nothing but a legal drug pusher. I do not recommend him to anyone. He has the tendency to prescribe the older psychotropic drugs which require weekly blood test. How convenient for his office to have a medical examination room equipped with blood drawing techs. He seems to believe that prescribing MULTIPLE sedatives, several times per day is the answer for anxiety. He will trash you with DRUGS. It would be in your best interest to stay away from this QUACK.
“I am so thankful that over the last nine years, while he was killing the people who trusted him, God kept me and my Dad safe,” said one unnamed patient who said she and her father had been seeing Nagareddy for years. “I am truly shocked that someone would kill innocent people just to make money. I pray for God to be with the victims families, and for everyone affected by this horrible tragedy and betrayal of trust.”
“My little grandsons are never going to know their mother and never see her again,” Carr lamented. “My heart isn’t big enough to feel sorry for him at all.” Carr’s daughter was found to have died from “acute combined toxicity” when she mixed the two medications that Nagareddy prescribed to her.
Nagareddy’s attorney, Steven Frye, said the good doctor is not responsible for anyone’s death. “I have had several calls from the medical community showing their full support for him so I expect that they will continue to do so and we will vigorously defend him.”
According to the Georgia State Board of Medical Examiners, the arrested psychiatrist has no disciplinary actions filed against him.