Court to hear cases of docs convicted in pain pill schemes
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear appeals from two doctors who were convicted of illegally distributing pain medication after writing thousands of prescriptions in short periods.
The court will take up the case of Xiulu Ruan of Mobile, Alabama, and Shakeel Kahn, who practiced medicine in Ft. Mohave, Arizona, and Casper, Wyoming.
Ruan and a partner, James Couch, were convicted of overprescribing medications at their Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama clinic and a pharmacy.
The two doctors wrote 66,892 prescriptions in 2014, investigators said. They grossed $20 million between 2012 and a raid in 2015, prosecutors said.
Kahn was convicted of conspiracy to unlawfully distribute and dispense controlled substances resulting in death, including oxycodone, an opioid pain reliever, and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
Jessica Burch, of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was a patient of Kahn’s who died from an overdose in 2015.
He wrote nearly 15,000 prescriptions for controlled substances between 2011 and the end of 2016, totaling nearly 2.2 million pills and of which nearly half were oxycodone, prosecutors said.
In their appeals, both doctors said they acted within professional norms and that they were prevented from mounting a “good faith” defense that they did not intend any harm to patients.
The Justice Department said in Ruan’s case that there was overwhelming evidence that Ruan and his partner acted “as a large-scale pusher — not as a physician.”