The misuse of opiods is an ongoing public health concern, and a doctor in Pennsylvania is the latest to be charged with unlawfully dispensing controlled substances to patients causing 5 deaths. Dr Raymond Kraynak has been charged with 19 counts related to the misuse of opiods, including the five deaths of patients in his care. The prosecutors in the case say that Kraynak prescribed nearly 3 million doses between January 2016 and July 207.
The alleged charges against Kraynak include prescribing opiods “without conducting a proper medical examination, inadequately verifying the patient’s medical complaint, and failing to assess the risk of abuse by individual patients.”
The charges include five counts of the unlawful distribution and dispensing of a controlled substance resulting in death, 12 counts of prescribing controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and two counts of maintaining drug-involved premises at his offices in Mount Carmel and Shamokin, Pennsylvania.
Public defender Thomas Thornton said. “Kraynak treats people in a small part of Pennsylvania where they don’t have doctors. At this point we really haven’t had a chance to see the evidence against him. We’re more concerned about his patients right now.”
The attorney David Frred has accused Kraynak of prescribing 2.7 million doses of opiods, including 2.7 million doses of oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxycontin and fentanyl in a 19 month period. He said “The sheer number of pills prescribed in this case is staggering. “Death or serious injury was the inevitable result of this defendant’s conduct.”
This follows similar cases in the last few years in the US, where doctors have been accused of causing the harm or deaths of patients by prescribing incorrect medication which have resulted in patients overdosing on opiod painkillers. This includes a case in California where a doctor was convicted to second-degree murder for the deaths of three patients, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The opioid epidemic in the US is an ongoing concern for the public, as well as among medical professionals. Reports have shown that over 63,000 lives were lost in 2016 to drugs overdoses, and more citizens than ever as becoming dependend on prescription painkillers or street drugs.
Kraynak faces the removal of his medical license and offices and a fine of $500,000. If convicted by the court, he could also face up to 20 years in prison for each of the deaths, as well as further sentences for the other 14 accusations.