A doctor in Kansas has been sentenced to life in prison for selling opioids to patients in the absence of any medical reason.
According to a daily newspaper published in Kansas, Judge J. Thomas Marten said the doctor, Steven R. Henson, wrote several illegitimate prescriptions and “abused his position of trust as a licensed physician”.
Nicholas “Nick” McGovern, one of Henson’s patients, died in 2015 due to overdose of drugs which Henson had prescribed to him. The newspaper reported that McGovern’s death resulted in proving the charges against Henson and convicting him of life in prison.
“I have sentenced people to life before,” the judge said in court. “They were people who took guns and shot people.”
“I only had one goal in life as a physician, and that was to take excellent care of patients and to increase their functionality,” Henson said.
According to the US Attorney’s Office in Kansas, Henson has been convicted of charges, including 13 counts of unlawfully distributing oxycodone; unlawfully distributing oxycodone, methadone and alprazolam; unlawfully distributing methadone and alprazolam, which resulted in the death of patient after its consumption; presenting false patient records to investigators; obstruction of justice; and six counts of money laundering.
In 2014, after a pharmacist raised concerns that Henson had been prescribing large doses of controlled medications, federal investigators began probing the doctor. The paper reported, Henson was prescribing opioids to patients at a cost of $300 cash.
Henson has also been accused by the prosecutors for fabricating patient records during the investigation and also halting the probe.
“I want this case to send a message to physicians and the health care community,” federal prosecutor Stephen McAllister said in the statement. “Unlawfully distributing opioids and other controlled substances is a federal crime.”
“We are dealing with an epidemic,” he added. “Nationwide, more than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from drug overdoses.”