Newsbrief: Dr. Hurwitz Trial Underway, Key Pain Doctor Prosecution 11/5/04

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!


http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/361/hurwitz.shtml

Northern Virginia pain management specialist Dr. William Hurwitz went on trial in Alexandria Wednesday in a prosecution that could be a landmark in the DEA's war on pain doctors and patients. He is charged in a 62-count indictment with leading a conspiracy to traffic in pain medications and resulting in the deaths of at least three patients.

The formal charges include drug trafficking resulting in death and serious bodily injury, conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances and health care fraud. Prosecutors, who have publicly likened the nationally-known pain specialist to "a street-corner crack dealer," say he prescribed excessive quantities of narcotic pain relievers to patients who then sold them on the black market. The excessive doses were also responsible for patient deaths and injuries, prosecutors alleged.

But in a case that has become a focal point in the struggle by pain patients and their advocates, Hurwitz supporters say prosecutors and the DEA are intruding on the legitimate practice of medicine, with patients left out in the cold. "This is a trophy case. They wanted a doctor," Hurwitz attorney Marvin D. Miller told the Washington Post. "Doctors should decide what is appropriate medical practice, not people in law enforcement."

"Because the DEA managed to arrest some of his patients and compel them to testify against him, Dr. Hurwitz is facing a life sentence," wrote Siobhan Reynolds, president of the pain patients' advocacy group the Pain Relief Network (http://www.painreliefnetwork.org). "The US Department of Justice is fully aware that Dr. Hurwitz did not intend to deal drugs. But that doesn't matter. They are trying to sell their 'drug diversion' story to Congress as a way to continue funding for their failed drug war," she told supporters.

In recent years, state and federal prosecutors and state medical boards have prosecuted dozens of doctors and administratively punished hundreds more for alleged violations of pain prescription protocols, but those doctors generally appear to have been operating within the bounds of legitimate medical practice.

With a high-powered legal team ready to rebut prosecution attempts to impose its version of acceptable medical practices on the profession and with supporters gathering and ready to make noise in Northern Virginia, the Hurwitz trial could -- and should -- force the national media to finally confront the issues of pain treatment and harassment of pain doctors head on.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks. Hurwitz, who is free on a $2 million bond, faces life in prison.

DRCNet will report in greater depth in the coming weeks on the Hurwitz trial, including discussion of both the defense's and prosecution's cases.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #361, 11/5/04 Editorial: Ironic Hypocrisy | Big Win in Big Sky Country: Montana Approves Medical Marijuana | Alaska Marijuana Initiative Defeated | Oregon Measure to Expand Medical Marijuana Access Defeated | More Than a Thousand Drug Offenders Continue Doing Life Sentences Following Defeat of California Three-Strikes Reform Initiative | Local Marijuana Initiatives and Questions Win in Ann Arbor, Columbia, Oakland and Massachusetts | Newsbrief: Victory for Rockefeller Law Foe in Albany DA Race | Newsbrief: Another Tulia in East Texas? | Newsbrief: South Carolina Jury Refuses to Send Opium Smoker to Prison for Decades, Acquits Him of Trafficking Instead | Newsbrief: Dr. Hurwitz Trial Underway, Key Pain Doctor Prosecution | Newsbrief: Group Hands Out Free Crack Pipes in Vancouver Harm Reduction Action | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | This Week in History | The DARE Generation Returns to DC: Students for Sensible Drug Policy 2004 National Conference Next Month | Apply Now to Intern at DRCNet! | DrugWarMarket.com Seeking Information, Affiliations, Link Exchanges | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]