The Case of the Purged Pamphlet


A story in today's Washington Post suggests why the DEA decided to disown its own advice regarding painkiller prescriptions: The document was useful to doctors accused of being too loose with narcotics. In late September, the Post reports, lawyers for William Hurwitz, a McLean, Virginia, physician whose drug trafficking trial is scheduled to begin next month, tried to introduce the painkiller pamphlet as evidence that his use of opioids was legitimate.

Several weeks later, the DEA took the document off its Web site and said it was not official policy.

Twelve days after that, U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty, who is prosecuting Hurwitz, filed a motion in the case asking that the guidelines be excluded as evidence, again saying that they do "not have the force and effect of law."

"It seems pretty clear that they felt they had to try to get rid of the guidelines because they supported so many parts of our case," said Hurwitz's defense attorney, Patrick Hallinan. "If the Justice Department followed the guidelines, there would be no reason to arrest and charge Dr. Hurwitz."

[Thanks to Alan Vanneman for the link.]