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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.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
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