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Doctor faces charges over opioid prescriptions and 5 patient deaths

A Pennsylvania doctor charged with causing the deaths of five patients by unlawfully prescribing opioids surrendered ...

Posted: Dec 23, 2017 5:57 PM
Updated: Dec 23, 2017 5:57 PM

A Pennsylvania doctor charged with causing the deaths of five patients by unlawfully prescribing opioids surrendered his license to prescribe controlled substances at a federal court hearing Friday, officials said.

Dr. Raymond Kraynak -- whom prosecutors say prescribed nearly 3 million doses of opioids from January 2016 to July -- also was released from custody Friday after posting a $500,000 bond, the US attorney's office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said.

New: Dr. Raymond Kraynak released from custody after posting $500,000 bond

Doctor allegedly wrote 2.7 million prescriptions for opioids within 19 months

Kraynak now awaits trial at a date yet to be determined.

Kraynak, 60, of Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, was arrested Thursday. He is accused of, among other things, causing five deaths of patients between 2013 and 2015 by "unlawfully distributing and dispensing controlled substances" to them, according to the US Justice Department.

Prosecutors also allege that Kraynak, between 2005 and 2016, prescribed opioids "without a legitimate medical purpose' and "without conducting a proper medical examination," the US attorney's office said.

He is accused of failing to verify patients' medical complaints adequately and patients' risk of abuse before prescribing the drugs, the prosecution said.

Kraynak, who had offices in the central Pennsylvania communities of Mount Carmel and Shamokin, pleaded not guilty in an initial court appearance Thursday, prosecutors said.

Kraynak treated people in a small part of Pennsylvania where doctors are scarce, public defender Thomas Thornton said.

"At this point we really haven't had a chance to see the evidence against him," his attorney said. "We're more concerned about his patients right now."

The US attorney's office alleges that Kraynak was the top prescriber in the state for opioids, writing ones for about 2.7 million doses of oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxycontin and fentanyl within 19 months. Those prescriptions were written for about 2,838 patients.

"The sheer number of pills prescribed in this case is staggering," US Attorney David Freed said in a statement. "Death or serious injury was the inevitable result of this defendant's conduct."

Kraynak is facing 19 charges, including 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.

It's not unprecedented for a doctor to be charged with causing the death of a patient through prescriptions. There have been similar cases in the past several years where doctors were held accountable in the deaths of patients who overdosed on opioid painkillers that had been prescribed.

In 2015, a doctor in Southern California was convicted of second-degree murder for the overdose deaths of three patients. She was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.

In the Kraynak case, the government seeks the forfeiture of two medical offices, his medical license and $500,000, according to a DOJ statement announcing the indictment.

If convicted, Kraynak faces a mandatory 20 years to life in prison for each of the counts involving the five patients. The other 14 charges are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The charges were the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from state and local police.

Kraynak has a license in osteopathic medicine and had come to attention of the state board for his prescription practices. In 2012, he agreed to complete a medical course after prescribing large amounts of "various controlled substances" to seven patients from January 2007 through June 2008. The record does not identify what he had prescribed. The State Board of Osteopathic Medicine fined Kraynak $2,500.

The United States is in the throes of an opioid epidemic as more Americans have become dependent or abuse prescription pain pills and street drugs. More than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdose in 2016, marking the most lethal year yet of the drug overdose epidemic, according to a report released this week.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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