PAIN DOCTOR INDICTED -
Newsbrief: Dr. Hurwitz Indicted, Jailed in Campaign Against Pain
Retired McLean, Virginia, pain specialist Dr. William Hurwitz was
arrested Wednesday morning and sits in jail pending a Monday bail hearing after
being indicted on federal charges related to his use of high doses of opioid
pain relievers in the course of his medical practice. A 49-count indictment
charges the nationally known specialist with drug trafficking resulting in
death and serious injury, engaging in a criminal enterprise, conspiracy and
health care fraud. The most serious charges carry a maximum penalty of life in
Hurwitz is the latest pain doctor to fall victim to an Oxycontin-fueled
Justice Department crusade against doctors it considers to be no more than drug
dealers. But the doctors' defenders charge that federal prosecutors and DEA
agents are ill-qualified to pass judgment on the latest advances in pain
management, which include sometimes massive doses of opioids within accepted
"Dr. Hurwitz is a legitimate medical doctor with expertise in the area
of the management of intractable chronic pain," his attorney, James
told the Washington Post Thursday." He was doing nothing but providing
appropriate medical care. The government has come in and taken a medical issue
attempted to apply horribly twisted logic to it through criminal statutes."
"The indictment and arrests in Virginia demonstrate our commitment to
bring to justice all those who traffic in this very dangerous drug,"
Attorney General John Ashcroft in a press release trumpeting the arrest.
will continue to pursue vigorously physicians, patients and others who are
responsible for turning OxyContin from a legitimate painkiller to a
vehicle of addiction and death."
US Attorney for Northern Virginia Paul J. McNulty told the Post that
Hurwitz was a "major and deadly drug dealer" who dispensed not proper
pain relief but "misery and sometimes death." Hurwitz's patients,
including some who
have spoken to DRCNet in the past, tell a different story. Hurwitz closed his
practice last year, telling DRCNet he feared indictment and that he wanted his
patients to have time to find alternate caregivers.
The indictment of William Hurwitz, which came late in this week's
DRCNet news cycle, is a major development in the conflict between medicine and
the Justice Department, but others are occurring as these words are written.
Look for extensive DRCNet coverage of the issue next week.
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