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Retrial of Pain Doctor Begins in Va.

Associated Press
; New York Times, National News; 2007-03-27. Posted: 2007-04-11. Source
Related resources:


The Hurwitz Collection

Drug War Journalism and Advocacy Library  ;  Major Media on the War on Doctors - Pain Crisis: 2005-2007

See also:

Comments of Frank Fisher Prior to Hurwitz Sentencing - Frank Fisher; PRN Press Conference; 2005-04-14
The Doctor is Not a Criminal // No Relief in Sight - Jacob Sullum; 2005 // 1997
Six Past-Presidents of the APS Express Concern Regarding 'Serious Misrepresentations' by Govt Expert Dr. Ashburn

Ominous Implications of the Hurwitz Appeal Decision? - Bill Marcus; NFTP listServ; 2006-08-22
War on Doctors/Pain Crisis blog and RSS feed


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- A prominent pain-management doctor accused of prescribing high doses of drugs such as morphine and OxyContin to patients went on trial for a second time Monday.

William E. Hurwitz, 61, was convicted in 2004 of drug trafficking, among other charges, and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but a federal appeals court last year tossed the conviction and ordered a new trial.

The appeals court ruled unanimously that the trial judge had improperly barred the jury from considering whether Hurwitz was acting in good faith.

In the new trial in U.S. District Court, Hurwitz is facing one count of conspiracy and 49 drug-trafficking counts, including one count of drug trafficking resulting in death.

In opening statements Monday, prosecutors said Hurwitz prescribed massive amounts of drugs to addicts and patients who were obviously selling their medications on the street. The defense said he was a physician who freed his patients from a life of debilitating pain.

Hurwitz, whose pain clinic drew patients from more than 39 states, was an aggressive advocate of high-dose opiate treatment for patients, once touting his theories on ''60 Minutes.'' He become a hero to patient advocates who believe that doctors routinely under-treat chronic pain.

Prosecutors say his waiting room was littered with stoned, sleeping patients with track marks on their arms. One patient had a prescription for up to 1,600 pills a day. Another patient died within two days of entering Hurwitz's care after he prescribed morphine in doses 40 times higher than anything she had previously received.

Sauber acknowledged that some patients may have scammed Hurwitz, but said Hurwitz's general instinct to trust patients was correct.

Prosecutors said Hurwitz had been put on notice multiple times that his methods were outside the bounds of legitimate medicine. His medical license was suspended twice, first in 1991 and again in 1996, and he was ordered to take classes on weeding out addicts and dealers posing as patients.

OxyContin was initially hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of severe chronic pain when it was introduced in 1996. But the drug has become a problem in recent years after abusers discovered that crushing the time-release tablets and snorting or injecting the powder yields an immediate, heroin-like high.



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Alexander DeLuca, M.D.

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Originally posted:  2007-04-11

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