Oxycontin-prescribing doctor seeks to prevent testimony

A suspended Pennsylvania doctor accused of illegally prescribing Oxycontin and other opioids hopes to bar incriminating testimony from his trial.

Dr. Raymond J. Kraynak filed a motion Tuesday in federal court to bar testimony that six people “would not have died” if not for his prescriptions.

The government wants to call Dr. Stephen M. Thomas as a witness. Thomas has also given the opinion that Kraynak’s treatment of 12 people was not in accordance with accepted principles.

Kranak faces 19 charges including drug distribution resulting in death. U.S. Attorney David Freed said that Kraynak prescribed about 2.7 million units of Oxycontin, hydrocodone, fentanyl and oxycodone to almost 3,000 patients from January 2016 to July 31, 2017. Freed said Kranak was Pennsylvania’s largest prescriber of those drugs.

Kraynak is being accused of prescribing opioids “outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose” from 2005 to 2016.

Kraynak faces 20 years to life imprisonment for every count where a patient died as well as each count alleging he prescribed opioids outside the usual course of professional practice. He also faces two counts of maintaining drug involved premises. These counts can be punished by up to 20 years of imprisonment.

Kraynak’s license to dispense controlled substances has been suspended by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Pennsylvania state Board of Osteopathic Medicine has also suspended his license to practice medicine until the charges against him are resolved.

Assistant public defender Thomas A. Thornton said the testimony should be barred because it is based on unreliable principles and insufficient facts.

“All he did was examine patient records and draw conclusions,” Thornton said.

Thornton said three of the dead patients didn’t have autopsies performed on them and it is possible those patients had other substances in their systems.

A federal judge recently set a June 30, 2020 deadline to file Oxycontin-related claims against Purdue Pharma. Purdue currently faces over 2,000 lawsuits which claim they illegally marketed Oxycontin by understating the drug’s ability to cause patients to become addicted to it.

Purdue pleaded guilty in federal court to understating Oxycontin’s addiction risk. The plea included an admission they failed to tell doctors it was stronger than morphine.

The U.S. Department of Justice document detailing the plea says Purdue falsely promoted and marketed Oxycontin as less subject to diversion and abuse, less addictive and less likely to cause withdrawal and tolerance than other medications, despite knowing Oxycontin had an abuse potential similar to morphine’s and was at least as addictive as other pain medications.


About the author

Nadrich & Cohen, LLP

Nadrich & Cohen, LLP is a California personal injury law firm with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Modesto, Fresno, Tracy and Palm Desert. The firm has been representing victims of dangerous drugs since 1990 and has recovered over $350,000,000 on behalf of clients in that time.

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