Pain Doctor Arrested


William Hurwitz, a McLean, Virginia, pain doctor who has survived past tussles with state regulators and the DEA, was arrested yesterday on federal charges related to his prescriptions of opioid painkillers. The charges include drug trafficking resulting in death and serious injury, engaging in a criminal enterprise, conspiracy, and health care fraud.

Hurwitz's attorney told The Washington Post: "Dr. Hurwitz is a legitimate medical doctor with expertise in the area of the management of intractable chronic pain. He was doing nothing but providing appropriate medical care. The government has come in and taken a medical issue and attempted to apply horribly twisted logic to it through criminal statutes."

In Reason's April cover story, Melinda Ammann reported that efforts to prevent nonmedical use of OxyContin, including the prosecution of doctors like Hurwitz, are having a chilling effect on pain treatment. In a recent essay, David Brushwood, a professor of pharmacy health care administration at the University of Florida in Gainesville, explains how aspects of a medical practice that look suspicious to regulators or prosecutors may in fact be signs of appropriate pain treatment.

[Link via the Drug Reform Coordination Network]