SCOTUS Needs to Clarify the Line Between Doctors and Drug Dealers

SCOTUS Needs to Clarify the Line Between Doctors and Drug Dealers

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Posted: Mar 02, 2022 12:01 AM

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Xiulu Ruan, a board-certified Alabama pain specialist, was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison for prescribing opioid analgesics “outside the usual course of professional medical practice.” According to the appeals court that upheld his conviction, it did not matter whether he sincerely believed he was doing what a physician is supposed to do.That ruling, which is the focus of a case the Supreme Court heard on Tuesday, conflates negligence with criminal liability, invites the Drug Enforcement Administration to usurp state medical regulators and encourages prosecutions that have a chilling effect on pain treatment. If it is allowed to stand, doctors who already face intense pressure to curtail opioid prescriptions will be even more inclined to elevate drug control above pain control.Ruan’s trial featured the usual battle of experts. Defense witnesses portrayed him as a conscientious physician doing his best to serve patients in dire need, while prosecution witnesses portrayed him as careless and blind to “red flags” indicating abuse or diversion of the drugs he prescribed.Some of this disagreement stemmed from dueling interpretations of Ruan’s practices and lapses. Some of it stemmed from ongoing debates on issues such as the risks and benefits of long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain and, more generally, how to b …

The post SCOTUS Needs to Clarify the Line Between Doctors and Drug Dealers appeared first on Populist Press ©2022.

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