57 y/o Regan Nichols, DO, a family practitioner in Midwest City, OK has been charged with five counts of second-degree murder over the deaths of five patients. She is also accused of prescribing controlled substances “without a legitimate medical reason”, and in excessive quantities. To sway public opinion, State Attorney General Mike Hunter was quoted as stating that “Nichols prescribed patients, who entrusted their well-being to her, a horrifyingly excessive amount of opioid medications. Nichols’ blatant disregard for the lives of her patients is unconscionable.”

Three of the five “were given a three-drug combination of an opioid, an anti-anxiety drug and Soma, a muscle relaxer.” But these three groups of medicines have been safely prescribed together for years. I know, because I got a lot of patients who came to me that were on them together. I didn’t prescribe benzodiazepines, and after a while I didn’t like Soma either, but many patients were still alive and well who had been prescribed these by other physicians. In general, when patients die on drugs like these, it is because they take them outside of the doctor’s instructions.

The media goes overboard in this case, however, to ensure that Dr. Nichols will not receive a fair trial. The CBS affiliates, especially, are notorious for this. So much innuendo, and just false statements, but they will contaminate the jury pool with people who have already made their mind up from the lies they read or hear.

Inflammatory comments by the media:

  1. This pioneering prosecution reflects the nationwide efforts to stamp out the opioid crisis that is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year.”
    A. But until people learn the REAL cause of drug abuse and stop blaming doctors, that won’t happen.
  2. Many of the people who overdose on heroin or powerful synthetic opioids got hooked on prescription painkillers first.
    A.  That is just pure propaganda made just to attack doctors like this.
  3. Experts who reviewed her patients’ files said the prescriptions were way over the line or had no medical basis, according to court papers.”
    A.  But people don’t understand that the only people who present to the Grand Jury are people who will lie to achieve an indictment–government agents.

Richard C. Ausness, a law professor at the University of Kentucky who tracks the issue, said “With the opioid addiction situation now highly publicized, it is not surprising to see some public officials looking to charge doctors and pharmacists with serious crimes like murder and manslaughter.” He said. “I would expect to see more of this in the future.”
A.  Basically the government will do whatever they can to achieve a conviction.

Mr. Ausness said the language used to describe Dr. Nichols’ alleged conduct mirrored terms that are used to describe a violation of the federal act.
A. The states are mirroring the federal government creating crime where there is no crime, using Title 21 against doctors to forfeit assets. The states want a piece of the pie.

4. The media (probably because the government made it sound like this), publicized that Dr. Nichols prescribed 1800 pills to “each” patient, when in reality, it was a total for all 5 patients. One news article that did a little research stated that one of the patients received 510 pills total in three different prescriptions of hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma. Another patient received 470.
A. All three of these medications are short-acting, and are usually prescribed up to four times per day. Hydrocodone can be prescribed even more often. So 510 pills is not so out of standard legitimate medical practice, and is especially not “horrifyingly excessive”. But since the government has now labeled this regimen as the “holy trinity”, it is easy to convict just based on innuendo.

  1. The media printed statistics of the opioid epidemic. However, most of those statistics are based on illegal drugs. But, as one article stated, “Law enforcement agents aren’t just going after drug dealers and Mexican cartels, they’re also targeting pharmaceutical companies and doctors.”
    A. The reason for the shift is $$$$. The government found that they couldn’t get to the assets of the drug cartels, so they move their target to innocent physicians to forfeit assets.
  2. And then to beat everything, the articles underneath “Read More” were about illegal drug deaths, heroin abuse and overdose.

State Attorney General Mike Hunter made the comment that he hopes this case puts other pain management doctors on alert. I hope so to, but not to think that Dr. Nichols did anything criminal, but that they could just as easily be targeted next.