Jan 22, 2004
Wausau Daily Herald
A Wausau physician and surgeon suffering from multiple sclerosis is scheduled to appear in Marathon County court next month on charges that he prescribed a high dosage of pain medication for himself.
Dr. Thomas J. Strick, 44, 2414 Elmwood Drive, is charged with 11 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, according to a criminal complaint filed this month. The pharmacist who filled the prescriptions, Jack R. Anderson, 60, faces the same charges after a police investigation that began in April 2002 at the Kmart pharmacy at 20 Menard Plaza where he was employed.
According to the criminal complaint, managers at the store contacted authorities after noticing suspicious behavior between Strick and Anderson. An employee checked the pharmacy's records and saw that Strick was receiving a large amount of Vicodin and a similar medication that he was prescribing and picking up himself.
The pharmacy's surveillance tapes later showed Strick handing Anderson money and then receiving what police say were the Vicodin pills. The footage also captured Anderson on different occasions pouring the pills into a clear plastic bag and later giving them to Strick before the pharmacy opened for the day. Police stopped Strick on May 3, 2002, as he was leaving Kmart with a bag of about 260 pills.
Strick told police that he resigned from the Marshfield Clinic-Wausau Center in October 2001 because of the chronic pain and fatigue he was experiencing from multiple sclerosis he has had since 1996.
He began to prescribe medication for himself about four months before his arrest and told police he was taking 10 to 12 Vicodin pills at once and then a few more every two to four hours when the pain returned, sometimes taking as many as 95 pills a day.
Strick told police that he recognized a safe limit would be no more than six to eight pills a day, according to court records. Concerned that he was trying to harm himself, officers placed him in emergency detention at North Central Health Care Center and asked him if he was trying to kill himself.
"Not actively, but I am trying to find relief from the pain," Strick told police. "I am not afraid to die now or in the near future, for I know my family is taken care of, and I would be free of pain if I were to die."
The state Medical Examining Board limited Strick's license in October
2002, according to the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing.
An evaluation determined he was addicted to painkillers, and the board
ordered him to undergo treatment and has since been monitoring his rehabilitation.
Strick has not worked at the Marshfield Clinic since his resignation, said Tom Weaver, spokesman for the facility.
After Strick's arrest, police interviewed Anderson, who also faces two
misdemeanor counts of theft, because police say he did not always enter
the transactions into the pharmacy's register.
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