Doctor taps bar manager for propofol customers

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Doctor taps bar manager for propofol customers

Prosecutors yesterday indicted a group of doctors and hospital workers for indiscriminately administering injections of propofol, a powerful anesthetic and memory loss agent that can be lethal if abused, to women working at hostess bars in Seoul.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday it indicted three doctors practicing in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on charges of illegally injecting a number of hostesses with propofol. Four other doctors and nurses were indicted for the same charge without detention.

The prosecutors also indicted 11 hostesses for illegally receiving so-called “milk of amnesia,” the street slang for the drug, without detention.

According to the authorities, one of the three doctors, surnamed Park, recruited a manager of a hostess bar, identified by his surname Gyung, to manage his clinic in June 2010 in an attempt to draw in a large number of bar workers already addicted to the anesthetic agent.

Park is accused of illegally administering propofol injections 43 times in total in February 2011.

The prosecutors said the 38-year-old former bar manager, who became confident he could draw in more propofol-addicts, purchased an underperforming clinic in Gangnam District from a 35-year-old doctor surnamed Moon in early 2011.

Gyung hired Moon to administer milk injections up to 360 times from February 2011 through July the same year, raking in 400 million won ($353,600) over the period.

The prosecutors reported the former bar manager, and Moon closed the clinic during a vacation season and only treated propofol addicts, giving them the drug two days in a row in what was called a “propofol day program.”

The hospital charged the addicts around 100,000 won for 10 milliliters (0.33 ounce) of the sedative, leading many of the women owing up to hundreds of millions of won.

The authorities added Gyung’s wife, whose identity has been withheld, widely known by her nickname “Mrs. Injection” among the addicts, is already behind bars, currently serving one and a half years for illegally administering propofol injections to nighttime workers. The wife also worked as a clinic manager.

The Food and Drug Administration classified the drug as a psychotropic medicine in 2011, regulating the prescription or use of the substance other than for treatments such as gastrointestinal endoscopies.

By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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