HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Doctor Faces Prison Term For Deaths By Painkiller
Pubdate: Wed, 20 Feb 2002
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2002 The Register-Guard
Contact:  http://www.registerguard.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/362
Author: Bill Kaczor, The Associated Press

DOCTOR FACES PRISON TERM FOR DEATHS BY PAINKILLER

MILTON, Fla. - A doctor was found guilty of manslaughter Tuesday for 
prescribing OxyContin to four patients who overdosed on the powerful 
painkiller.

Dr. James Graves, who was Florida's top prescriber of Oxycontin, faces up 
to 30 years in prison.

Graves, 55, is believed to be the nation's first doctor to stand trial on 
manslaughter or murder charges in the OxyContin death of a patient. He was 
convicted on four counts of manslaughter, one count of racketeering and 
five counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.

Prosecutor Russell Edgar estimated that Graves, who testified that he had 
up to 1,000 patients at his pain management offices in Pace and Brewton, 
Ala., brought in $500,000 a year.

``The defendant in effect put people in a chemical straitjacket,'' Edgar 
said Tuesday. ``It was to his financial benefit to do so and ... also it 
served his ego.''

Graves had testified that he did not know his patients were abusing drugs 
and said no one would have died if OxyContin had been taken as prescribed.

``OxyContin is a good drug if it is taken properly,'' said defense attorney 
H.E. Ellis Jr. ``Pharmacy companies don't spend billions of dollars 
developing drugs if they are going to kill people.''

Prosecutors said money rolled in as patients, most paying cash, returned 
repeatedly to feed their addictions.

``Word spread that he was the go-to doctor,'' Edgar said Monday. ``He's no 
different than a drug dealer.''

OxyContin is a synthetic opiate. Addicts get a heroinlike high by chewing 
the pills or crushing them and then injecting the drug.
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