A physician in the Dallas area was arrested last week on multiple charges, and federal prosecutors are tying him to seven overdose deaths with the possibility of the case expanding to include several more. Howard Gregg Diamond, MD, was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and healthcare fraud, according to reporting by the Associated Press.
Prosecutors were largely mum on the subject, noting the related investigation remain open, but they were willing to note a direct connection to the ongoing epidemic of opioid addiction.
“It’s a different type of problem that we’ve been seeing build for several years now,” Brit Featherston, the acting U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Texas, told the Associated Press.
Authorities contend that Diamond wrote prescriptions that served no justifiable medical need for his patients. The indictment cites prescriptions for fentanyl, hydrocodrone, and morphine, and details seven related overdose deaths, each of which occurred within a month of Sherman writing a prescription.
The Texas Medical Board previously dinged Diamond for inadequate recordkeeping in relation to patients he treated for chronic pain. In 2015, he was ordered to accept board oversight. The associated remedial plan was completed successfully.
Diamond appeared in court on Friday, where prosecutors argued he was a flight risk. Additionally, federal agents noted that they could find only one doctor who prescribed more hydrocodone than Diamond in the state of Texas in 2016, according to reporting by KXII-TV.
Ongoing law-enforcement efforts could connect Diamond to 15 more overdose deaths, according to the lead DEA investigator on the case.
The judge didn’t immediately rule on whether or not Diamond will remain in federal custody throughout the trial. If convicted of the charges, Diamond could be sentenced to life in prison.
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