Physician who called opioids his 'Skittles,' convicted of 38 charges

Hawaii anesthesiologist Rudolph Puana, MD, was convicted on 38 counts of opioid distribution, the Justice Department said April 20.

Dr. Puana was convicted by a jury after less than one day of deliberation, the department said. He distributed more than 7,810 oxycodone 30mg pills to his friends so they could sell it to buy cocaine and pay for private school tuition.

He also gave fentanyl and oxycodone to a friend to pay for cocaine that they both used to party together, the department said. Dr. Puana introduced his best friend to what he called his "trinity," a combination of cocaine, opioids and alcohol. He referred to hydrocodone pills as his "Skittles," which he got from the "doctor's candy store."

Dr. Puana admitted to possessing seven firearms  — including handguns, rifles and a shotgun — while being addicted to narcotics, the department said.

He falsified medical records and fake drug tests to legitimize the amount of oxycodone he gave his friends, the department said. The friends testified during the trial that Dr. Puana was not their pain doctor and they never visited the clinic for medical reasons. 

Sentencing is set for September 12, the department said.

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