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Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
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“Good faith” at issue in Hurwitz appeal

In a hearing before a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, defense attorneys for William Hurwitz, M.D., argued that jurors had not been allowed to consider whether the doctor had acted in good faith in prescribing pain medication for lying “patients” who turned out to be drug dealers or addicts.

District Judge Leonard Wexler’s directive “contravenes 80 years of unbroken precedent” in similar cases, attorney Lawrence Robbins said. “The rules are the same whether he’s a bad doctor or Albert Schweitzer.”

Dr. Hurwitz, age 60, is serving a 25-year sentence in prison.

Several of his patients testified at trial that he had relieved them of crippling pain that other doctors refused to treat.

Prosecutor Richard Cooke argued that good faith was not applicable in Hurwitz’s case because he “acknowledged that he knew he was prescribing to addicts and dealers” (Larry O’Dell, AP, 3/17/06.)

“A mere suspicion that a patient might be diverting is now apparently enough to make a doctor a conspirator in a drug-dealing scheme,” commented AAPS Public Affairs Counsel Kathryn Serkes, who attended the hearing.

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