JAMAICA, Queens –Just the kind of news you wanted to hear about an airport doctor.
A senior, aviation medical examiner—who checked pilots to sign off on their medical fitness to fly—was busted Thursday morning, accused of selling prescriptions for powerful, addictive painkillers like Oxycodone.
But so far, investigators haven’t found any evidence that Dr. Gerald Surya of Valley Stream was writing prescriptions for pilots.
Surya was picked up near his home in Valley Stream Thursday, charged with selling the prescriptions since at least 2013, when the investigation of his practice started.
Surya also made appearances on television as an aviation expert, including on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC in March 2015.
Surya is an internist who had an office at JFK Medport, located in Building 14 on the airport grounds.
Investigators said he was selling prescriptions there and at his second practice, Sun Medical Care of Nassau PC, located on South Central Avenue in Valley Stream.
DEA agents and investigators for Bridget Brennan, the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, said Surya started out by selling prescriptions for $60 a pop to a select group of patients but then hiked his prices to $100.
The government undercover case started in November 2014 and revealed Surya sometimes sold multiple prescriptions in different names, during a single visit by one patient.
PIX11 Investigates has reported extensively on doctors and pharmacists writing and selling illegal prescriptions for millions in profit.
More than 60 have been busted in New York State since 2011.
Oxycodone is an especially powerful painkiller that can sell for up to $80 a pill on the black market.
It is a highly-addictive opioid.
Because Oxycodone is so expensive, many users—so many of them young people—gravitate to heroin use.
Heroin is an opiate that has a similar, euphoric high as Oxycodone.
When PIX11 presented its special series last November, “Heroin, A to Z,”—medical experts and grieving parents blamed the explosion of prescription painkiller use and abuse as the main cause of the current heroin epidemic.
More than 175,000 Americans fatally overdosed in a twelve year period from painkillers or heroin.
DEA Special Agent in Charge, James J. Hunt, noted, “Over the past ten years, the prescription drug overdose rate has doubled.”
As a result, there’s been a “200% increase in arrests.”
To learn more about the connection between painkillers and heroin, you can go to pix11.com/heroin.
Dr. Surya was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court Thursday afternoon on 26 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.