The Associated Press account
ignores support for Hurwitz in medical community, and the national debate on
This story is not just about drug trafficking
Here's a glaring example of
unbalanced coverage of chronic pain that appeared in dozens of papers across the
country this morning in an
Associated Press (AP) account of the successful appeal of a prominent
physician's conviction for conspiracy and drug trafficking.
Amicus briefs favoring the doctor's appeal had been filed by the specialty
medical society that represents doctors who treat pain, by both the American and
National Pain Foundations and by two of the country's leading academic pain
The Hurwitz Collection] But if you
read the AP version , you'd never know the case was anything more than our
system granting some druggie doctor a legal point.
Here's the AP's lead:
"A doctor convicted of drug
trafficking for prescribing massive doses of OxyContin and other painkillers to
his patients will get a new trial.
Hurwitz, a prominent pain specialist, was convicted in 2004 of 50 counts,
including conspiracy and drug trafficking resulting in a patient's fatal
overdose. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison."
And here's how the
Washington Post opened the same story:
"A federal appeals court threw out the
conviction of William E. Hurwitz yesterday, granting the prominent former
Northern Virginia pain-management doctor a new trial because jurors were not
allowed to consider whether he prescribed drugs in good faith.
The decision again galvanized the national debate that the Hurwitz case had come
to symbolize: whether fully licensed doctors prescribing legal medication to
patients in chronic pain should be subject to prosecution if their patients
abuse or sell the drugs. Patient advocate groups strongly supported Hurwitz and
expressed concern that his conviction would have a chilling effect on pain
The AP story doesn't mention the national debate or the amicus briefs by
Hurwitz' colleagues and patient advocates – who would ordinarily be expected to
distance themselves from a doctor who'd become a dangerous drug dealer.
And, while it quotes one of the prosecutors whose arguments failed to carry the
day with the higher court, it does not quote the attorney who won the Hurwitz
appeal, nor does it contain comment from any of the pain advocates who have made
the doctor's case their cause, all of which are in the Post story.