Supreme Court Ruling on Opioid Prescribing Invoked in Ongoing Prosecutions

    In the three months since the Supreme Court issued a decision about doctors prescribing opioids, it has been invoked in at least 15 ongoing prosecutions in 10 states, Kaiser Health News reports.

    The case, Ruan v. United States, involved the appeals of two doctors who were separately convicted of running pill mills, and were sentenced to 21 and 25 years in prison. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the doctors, who were convicted of prescribing dangerous opioids without valid medical justification in violation of federal law.

    The court in June said that in order for the prosecution of the doctors to be successful, the government “must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly or intentionally acted in an unauthorized manner.”

    Before the unanimous court ruling, doctors on trial were largely unable to argue they were acting in good faith when they wrote prescriptions that harmed patients. Attorneys told Kaiser Health News that now doctors can make the “good faith” argument.

    The Supreme Court ruling may have a chilling effect on future prosecutions of physicians under the Controlled Substances Act, the article notes.