Forest Tennant

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Forest Tennant
NationalityUnited States of America
Medical career
FieldPain Management
ResearchIntractable Pain

Forest S. Tennant Jr. is an American physician, writer, businessman, consultant, and former mayor of West Covina, California. Tennant has earned recognition as an expert in pain management and substance dependence and has also been involved in some controversies.

Education and early career[edit]

Tennant was born into a farm family in Dodge City, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Missouri and, in 1966,[1] the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He served in Vietnam as a Major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was an Army surgeon in Germany, where he first came into contact with patients with drug problems. In 1972, Tennant earned a Doctorate of Public Health at the UCLA School of Public Health of the University of California, Los Angeles. His doctoral thesis was informed by his experience treating service personnel. As a post-doctorate fellow, Tennant was appointed director of UCLA's methadone program,[2][3] and was an associate professor at the school.[4]

Physician and writer[edit]

Tennant specializes in pain management and drug addiction.[5][6] He is a strong advocate for intractable pain patients, arguing that opioids can be safe and effective even when applied over long durations,[7] and helped push the "Pain Patient's Bill of Rights" law through the California legislature.[8] Tennant has authored over 200 articles and books, including many to help intractable pain patients,[9] and is editor-in-chief of the journal Practical Pain Management.[10] The late Zig Ziglar described Tennant as "perhaps the number one drug authority in the world".[11]

The worst propaganda being pushed upon all chronic pain patients, including those with and without IP are the elusive 'magic bullet' formulas being advanced by the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, unethical practitioners, and some health plans and government agencies... The worst deception these days is the fraudulent pitch that pain can be cured by stopping all medications. As if the control is the cause!!

— Forest Tennant, The Intractable Pain Patients' Handbook for Survival

Businesses and consultancies[edit]

Until his retirement in 2018, Tennant operated a pain management clinic, Veract Intractable Pain Clinic in West Covina, California. The clinic, opened in 1975, originally focused primarily on cancer patients and post-polio pain.[9]

Tennant has been a substance abuse consultant for the California Department of Justice, the California Highway Patrol (where he taught officers how to recognize symptoms of drug use)[2] and hundreds of private companies, including Texaco and the Southern Pacific Railroad.[12]

He operated a drug testing and drug education consultancy, with clients including the National Football League (NFL), the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), and the Los Angeles Dodgers.[13] With the Dodgers, Tennant worked with players including Steve Howe,[14][15] a promising left-hander whose career was ultimately derailed by substance abuse.

Tennant terminated his relationship with the NFL in April 1989,[16] and Tennant's handling of some matters while working for the NFL, particularly in the Clarence Kay case, were later criticized.[16] Tennant was accused of being involved with reporting a false result of a drug test of NASCAR driver Tim Richmond;[17] the resulting lawsuit was settled out of court,[17] and NASCAR terminated its relationship with Tennant in 1990.[18]

Tennant became involved with methadone clinics in 1972 when he became director of UCLA's methadone treatment program, later creating the nonprofit Community Health Projects, Inc. which operated 29 methadone facilities in California. His clinics were repeatedly cited by California and federal authorities for serious and continuous deficiencies[12] and on several occasions had to reimburse the state for overcharges.[19] In March 1997, following a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation, Tennant and Community Health Projects paid $625,000 to settle allegations that many of his clinics violated record-keeping requirements. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Richardson Pelliccioni, record-keeping was so poor at the clinics that methadone supplies could not be tracked adequately.[12]

Federal prosecutors said it was the long history of uncorrected violations that forced Tennant and his chain to pay the U.S. government $625,000 and avoid a civil lawsuit. Tennant and Community Health Projects denied wrongdoing and said they were victims of federal rules that were vague, bewildering, inconsistent, unevenly enforced, and contradictory to California law, and that no clinic could withstand the special scrutiny that Community Health Projects received as the state's largest and most visible provider of methadone treatment. Tennant called for new state legislation to clarify methadone regulations.[12]

Tennant developed methods of examining eyes to detect presence of drugs in the system.[20] His "rapid-eye exam" won praise from law enforcement authorities as an effective field drug sobriety test.[2] A home-use version, the "Rapid Eye Check Kit", was developed by Tennant and marketed by an Irvine non-profit group as an aid for parents in detecting teen drug use. Colleges, school districts and businesses in several states adopted the test. This test drew criticism for inaccuracy (including both false positives and false negatives) and intrusiveness. In a civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the University of Colorado's student drug-testing program, which included the test, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bellipanni concluded that the test was extremely inaccurate.[21][22]

It was announced on March 26, 2018, that Tennant would be retiring and therefore closing his pain clinic in the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina. It has been speculated that his retirement was partly due to an ongoing DEA investigation of his opioid prescribing practices.[23]

Politics and civic involvement[edit]

Tennant has been active in local Republican politics.[24][25] He founded the San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the Lincoln Club,[26] a California Republican organization.[27] He has been active in civic charities, is the recipient of an NAACP Service Award, and was West Covina Citizen of the Year.[3]

Tennant served two terms on the West Covina, California city council in 1980–1988[28] and was also mayor of the city. Tennant was active in efforts to block expansion of landfills in the San Gabriel Valley[29] and was opposed to County Supervisor Pete Schabarum's efforts to block the BKK Corporation landfill in West Covina from accepting trash from Los Angeles[28][30] and clashed with Schabarum over plans to build a waste-to-energy incinerator in Irwindale.[31][32] Tennant also worked to block commercial development in Frank C. Bonelli Regional Park.[33]

Tennant sponsored a bill, which became law in 1997, to make highly restricted narcotics more available to patients with severe and intractable pain. The law, which includes a "Pain Patient's Bill of Rights", requires doctors to advise patients who suffer from severe, chronic, and intractable pain that narcotics such as Percodan, Demerol and Dilaudid could be prescribed. According to Tennant and bill author Leroy Greene, doctors were failing to prescribe these drugs in the large quantities needed for severe pain relief because they feared prosecution for overprescribing a controlled substance, or because they are philosophically opposed to narcotics because they can create dependency.[8][34]


Partial list
  • Tennant, Forest (2013). The Intractable Pain Patient's Guide to Pain Free Hours (PDF) (3rd ed.). Veract Intractable Pain Clinic. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  • Tennant, Forest. What To Do While Looking for a GOOD Pain Doctor (PDF). Veract Intractable Pain Clinic. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  • Forest Tennant (May 2007). "Overcoming Opiophobia & Doing Opioids Right" (PDF). Pain Treatment Topics. SBL Ltd. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  • Forest Tennant (2007). "The Intractable Pain Patient's Handbook For Survival" (PDF). Pain Treatment Topics. SBL Ltd. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  • Forest Tennant (September 2012). "John F. Kennedy's Pain Story: From Autoimmune Disease To Centralized Pain" (PDF). Practical Pain Management. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 6, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  • Forest Tennant (July–August 2007). "Howard Hughes & Pseudoaddiction" (PDF). Practical Pain Management. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  • Rawson, Richard A.; Washton, Arnold M.; Resnick, Richard B.; Tennant, Forest S. (1984). "Clonidine Hydrochloride Detoxification from Methadone Treatment—The Value of Naltrexone Aftercare". In Stimmel, Barry; Lowinson, Joyce H. (eds.). Conceptual Issues in Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Binghamton, New York: Haworth Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0866563161. Retrieved January 22, 2014.


  1. ^ "Welcome to". Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Elliott Almond (January 27, 1990). "Controversy Continues to Dog Tennant : Drug testing: Latest debate on West Covina doctor's ability might cost him position with NFL". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Forest S. Tennant, Jr., M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H., FACPM". Country Doc MD. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  4. ^ William Oscar Johnson (September 19, 1988). "Hit For A Loss". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Ziglar, Zig (2002). Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World. Thomas Nelson. p. 27. ISBN 9781418517168. Retrieved January 14, 2012. Dr. Forest Tennant of UCLA is an authority on drugs, drug abuse, drug treatment, and drug prevention.
  6. ^ Thorbum, Doug; Talbott, G. Douglas (2001). Drunks, Drugs & Debits: How to Recognize Addicts and Avoid Financial Abuse. Galt. p. 50. ISBN 978-0967578835. ...addiction expert Forest Tennant...
  7. ^ Foreman, Judy (2014). A Nation in Pain: Healing our Biggest Health Problem. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 159. ISBN 978-0199837205. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Carl Ingram (July 16, 1997). "Bill to Ease Access to Drugs for Pain Gains". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "About Dr. Tennant". Pain Management. Archived from the original on March 13, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  10. ^ "Forest Tennant, MD, DrPH". Practical Pain Management. Vertical Health LLC. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  11. ^ Ziglar, Zig (1991). Ziglar on Selling: The Ultimate Handbook for the Complete Sales Professional. Thomas Nelson. p. 308. ISBN 978-0785288930. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d Dan Weikel (July 21, 1997). "State, DEA Probe Mismanagement in Methadone Clinics". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  13. ^ Julie Cart (March 31, 1990). "Tennant's Former Employee Found Not Guilty". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  14. ^ Dave Anderson (July 8, 1986). "Sports of The Times; New Dimention [sic] in Drug Issue". New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  15. ^ Gordon Edes (July 4, 1985). "Howe Is Released by Dodgers, Cites Pressures of L.A." Los Angeles Times. p. 2. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Elliott Almond (September 6, 1990). "NFL Questioned on Drugs Again: Testing: Report says Rozelle was concerned about the handling of Clarence Kay's result. Later, the league allegedly kept the Bronco player quiet with a deal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Elliott Almond (February 21, 1990). "Family Says Drug Test Falsified : Motor racing: Richmond's parents charge that NASCAR officials and their former drug adviser, Forest Tennant, used false tests to ban driver". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  18. ^ NEWSWIRE (February 23, 1990). "Tennant No Longer NASCAR's Drug Adviser". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 7, 2014.
  19. ^ Richard Demak, Jerry Kirshenbaum (July 10, 1989). "A Doctor And His Critics". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  20. ^ Forest Tennant (June 1, 2008). "Eye Screening and Intractable Pain Management". Practical Pain Management. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  21. ^ Marcida Dodson (June 6, 1989). "Keeping an Eye on Kids : Parents Trying Controversial Home Tests, Including Pupil Checks, to Detect Child Drug Use". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  22. ^ Dan Weikel (December 18, 1989). "Eye Kit for Drug Screening Not Accurate, Doctors Say". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  23. ^ "Dr. Forest Tennant Retiring Due to DEA Scrutiny". Pain News Network. Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  24. ^ Rick Holguin (December 15, 1994). "Mountjoy's Battle : Politics: The state senator-elect is a key player in the speakership fight. In an effort to oust Willie Brown from power, he refuses to give up his Assembly seat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  25. ^ Faye Fiore, Peter M. Warren (June 4, 1998). "Dornan Basks in Improbable Comeback". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  26. ^ "Welcome to the San Gabriel Valley Chapter Home Page". Los Angeles County Lincoln Clubs. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  27. ^ "History". Lincoln Club of Orange County. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  28. ^ a b "West Covina : Tennant Won't Run Again". Los Angeles Times. January 28, 1988. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  29. ^ "Coalition Aims to Block Expansion of Landfills". Los Angeles Times. November 22, 1990. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  30. ^ Jeffrey Miller (October 18, 1987). "W. Covina Rejects BKK Ban on L.A. Trash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  31. ^ "San Gabriel Valley : 2 More Cities Oppose Trash-to-Energy Plant". Los Angeles Times. September 12, 1985. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  32. ^ "West Covina : Tennant Backs Schabarum". Los Angeles Times. March 6, 1986. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  33. ^ "West Covina: Bonelli Park Plan Opposed". Los Angeles Times. December 3, 1987. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  34. ^ Mark Norwood. "California Pain Laws". Retrieved January 22, 2014.