Pennsylvania Pain Doctor Acquitted
Yesterday a jury acquiited Erie, Pennsylvania, doctor Paul Heberle of overprescribing narcotics, rejecting 14 drug charges and 12 Medicaid fraud charges brought by Attorney General Tom Corbett. (Two other charges were dropped at the beginning of the trial.) The state's investigation of Heberle began after one of his patients died of a fentanyl overdose; according to Heberle, the patient tore open a timed-release patch and swallowed a three-day supply all at once. Corbett's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation also said it had received complaints from pharmacists who thought Heberle was too generous with painkillers. According to A.P., jurors interviewed after the verdict said they concluded that "Heberle did the best he could treating patients that other doctors didn't want." The Pain Relief Network, which played a key role in Heberle's defense, reports that half a dozen of his pain patients attempted suicide after the state disrupted his practice, one of them successfully.