Prosecutors Now Targeting Doctors in Opioid Related 'Homicides'

Regan Nichols. Photo Courtesy Oklahoma County Jail.

Some prosecutors are now seeking charges against doctors who prescribe drugs to patients, as was the recent case of a woman being charged with murder in Oklahoma. The FBI has acknowledged the surge in opioid use and tied it directly to the pharmaceutical industry.

Regan Nichols was charged with five counts of second degree murder for prescribing hundreds of powerful pills that could kill any ordinary person, not to mention an actual addict whose tolerance is high. Expert doctors for the DEA also said the combinations of the type of drugs didn't make sense either, according to the Washington Post report.

Photo: Regan Nichols. Oklahoma County Jail.
According to the Post, there have been an increase in the number of opioid addicts who are found unconscious in public with children in their vehicles unattended to. The growing number of opioid addicts has caused some definite awareness in both politics and law enforcement who acknowledge the growing problem in pharmaceutical drug addictions. Many addicts move on to illicit street drugs like heroin, but substances like fentanyl are even more dangerous than that. Opioids are highly addictive drugs that can be deadly.

About five years ago, Sheila Bartels came out of the Sunshine Medical Center in Oklahoma with a prescription. Authorities there said it was a "horrifyingly excessive" amount.

She received prescription drugs including painkiller Hydrocodone, anti-anxiety medication Xanax and muscle relaxant Soma. That was a total of more than 500 pills, all legal and regulated by the federal government. Nichols' prescription, authorities say, led to the death of this patient. Nichols was arrested and later released from the local Oklahoma County Jail on $50,000 bail, according to the Post.

During much of the War on Drugs, the focus has been on Asian, Mexican, European and South American drug cartels and local street dealers. That focus has shifted. It is a new era, one in which pot isn't even on the radar (in fact, it is quickly becoming decriminalized across the states). Law enforcement is now starting to look inward at the pharmaceutical and medical infrastructure that plays a role in the distribution of tons of dangerous drugs that are misused in society.

Other doctors have been charged in other cases as well. Doctors were also scrutinized after mega pop stars Michael Jackson and Prince both died as the result of drug complications. The Drug War Times covered that story as well.

The CDC said opioids killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015. That number has quadrupled since the early 1990s. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality said more than a million Americans were hospitalized for issues related to opioid use and/or abuse.