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Physician's prescriptions faulted in guitarist's overdose

A pain specialist faults prescriptions by an Alabama physician accused of federal crimes in the 2016 drug overdose death of a former guitarist for rock band 3 Doors Down.

Posted: May 17, 2018 3:11 PM

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A pain specialist faults prescriptions by an Alabama physician accused of federal crimes in the 2016 drug overdose death of a former guitarist for rock band 3 Doors Down.

Dr. Richard Snellgrove is accused of unlawful distribution of drugs and health care fraud in a case tied to the death of Matthew Roberts. The Fairhope physician faces up to 240 years in prison and up to $2.8 million in fines if convicted.

Al.com reports that Dr. Rahul Vohra testified Wednesday in the trial in Mobile that Snellgrove's records don't justify the painkillers he was prescribing, especially because he knew Roberts struggled with addiction.

Vohra is a specialist in pain treatment who works in Jackson, Mississippi, and reviews case files for Mississippi authorities of doctors suspected of improperly prescribing pain medicine.

He testified that Snellgrove did not use enough non-drug therapies; was willing to give opioids to a known addict; and escalated the strength of prescriptions at a rate Vohra found excessive. Vohra said a doctor has the responsibility to act when a patient shows signs of addiction.

Roberts was a founding member of 3 Doors Down when the rock group began in 1996 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Roberts left the band after its 2012 European tour, checking into rehab the same year. He was found dead in August 2016 in a hotel hallway in West Bend, Wisconsin, where he had gone to perform a charity concert.

Roberts' family is also suing Snellgrove, Rite Aid Corp. and others in a civil lawsuit in state court in Alabama. That case is stayed pending the outcome of Snellgrove's criminal case.

Snellgrove's defense team argues their client provided reasonable treatment for a patient who had legitimate medical needs. Questioning Vohra, defense attorney Art Powell suggested that Roberts might have been deceiving Snellgrove, getting prescriptions from other sources and abusing street drugs as well.

Vohra also agreed when Powell asked him if Roberts might have had lasting pain from a 2006 car wreck and surgeries on his wrists for carpal tunnel syndrome and on one hand for a tendon disorder.

Powell brought up a suggestion that at one time, Snellgrove had deliberately been prescribing lower doses in order to wean Roberts off specific drugs. Vohra maintained that was illegal: That if Snellgrove knew Roberts had an addiction problem, he was forbidden from prescribing more painkillers. Robert should have been referred to a specialist for any such weaning treatment, he said.

"That's what the DEA wants you to do," said Powell.

"That's what the DEA makes you do," said Vohra.

Shortly before his death, Snellgrove gave Roberts a prescription for Fentanyl patches delivering 75 micrograms an hour of the drug. The patches are designed to be worn for 72 hours each, so that 10 last a month. Powell suggested that at the time of this death, Roberts might have gone through four of them in 30 hours.

The defense attorney posed a hypothetical question: If Roberts had taken his medicine as prescribed, might he still be alive?

"He might be," Vohra answered.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 38567

Reported Deaths: 1290
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds318859
DeSoto211220
Madison158940
Jones126651
Harrison126017
Rankin123420
Forrest110544
Neshoba105978
Lauderdale98383
Scott84315
Jackson82820
Washington80615
Copiah69616
Leake66420
Lee66223
Grenada64713
Oktibbeha64428
Lamar6257
Warren61622
Holmes61442
Leflore58856
Wayne58819
Yazoo5847
Lowndes56917
Sunflower5659
Lincoln54436
Pike53724
Lafayette5364
Panola5176
Monroe49139
Simpson4803
Covington4735
Bolivar46318
Tate43113
Pontotoc4066
Attala39424
Adams39221
Newton38410
Marion36312
Pearl River32332
Claiborne32212
Winston31413
Chickasaw31319
Marshall3104
Jasper3016
Walthall29210
Noxubee2869
Clay27411
Union26611
Smith26312
Coahoma2516
Clarke24125
Tallahatchie2394
Lawrence2222
Yalobusha2169
Montgomery1973
Carroll19611
Kemper18914
Calhoun1875
Humphreys18410
Itawamba1638
Hancock16214
Tippah15411
Webster13611
Jefferson1353
Prentiss1344
George1313
Jefferson Davis1304
Tunica1293
Greene12510
Tishomingo1251
Amite1243
Alcorn1232
Quitman1111
Wilkinson1079
Perry994
Stone852
Choctaw794
Franklin602
Benton580
Sharkey540
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 58225

Reported Deaths: 1183
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7449176
Mobile5349157
Montgomery4732118
Madison290112
Tuscaloosa283754
Marshall213313
Shelby188027
Lee179337
Baldwin149912
Morgan14897
DeKalb11457
Etowah113614
Walker113537
Elmore111825
Dallas103312
Franklin97016
Unassigned84228
Russell7610
Autauga74318
Limestone7254
Cullman7136
Chambers69932
Houston6848
St. Clair6714
Lauderdale6647
Tallapoosa66272
Butler65931
Calhoun6426
Colbert6138
Escambia56212
Jackson5113
Pike5016
Lowndes49723
Coffee4734
Covington45214
Talladega4517
Dale4283
Barbour4263
Bullock38110
Marengo38111
Hale37523
Chilton3693
Blount3671
Marion35514
Clarke3396
Wilcox3328
Winston3167
Sumter30613
Randolph28610
Monroe2833
Pickens2827
Perry2702
Conecuh2558
Bibb2382
Macon2359
Choctaw22112
Greene2029
Washington1679
Henry1653
Lawrence1590
Crenshaw1433
Cherokee1407
Geneva1100
Lamar961
Clay942
Fayette923
Coosa681
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