Maui doctor charged with illegal distribution of hydrocodone

Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 4:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui doctor who also has an office on the Big Island has been charged with six counts of unlawful distribution of the pain medication hydrocodone.

Federal authorities said Paul A. Kaiwi Jr., 51, repeatedly furnished an undercover agent with prescriptions for hydrocodone after brief physical exams between Dec. 2018 and May 2019.

The agent visited Kaiwi on six different occasions, and left with a prescription each time of roughly 90 pills. Authorities said Kaiwi conducted little or no medical history before issuing the prescription.

Hydrocodone is an opioid used for the treatment of acute or chronic pain.

A law enforcement analysis of Kaiwi’s prescription data found that between 2015 and 2020, some 88% of Kaiwi’s patients who got prescriptions for a controlled substance obtained an opioid.

Additionally, 277 patients got prescriptions that were twice the upper limit recommended.

“Today’s charges reflect our ongoing commitment to hold doctors who unlawfully prescribe controlled substances accountable for their misconduct,” said US Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price.

Drug treatment experts on Maui say the news is not surprising.

“We’ve been aware for a long time that there are people, medical professionals, who over prescribe, especially opiates, and it’s a problem, a big problem ... hundreds of times more powerful than stuff that has been available before. And so the potential for overdose and death as a result of taking these drugs is enormous,” said Jud Cunningham, Maui Behavioral Health Resources CEO.

Cunningham oversees three non-profits on the Valley Isle: Maui Youth & Family Services, Aloha House and Malama Family Recovery Center. Part of its mission aims to help those suffering from substance abuse and addictive behaviors.

“We’re in favor of anything that will control access to these drugs,” Cunningham said.

The six counts against Kaiwi each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.

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