Judge compares doctor to “people who took guns and shot people”
CNN – A Kansas doctor was sentenced to life in federal prison Friday for distributing prescription drugs that resulted in the death of a patient.
Wichita doctor Steven R. Henson, 57, was convicted in October of conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs outside the course of medical practice, presenting false patient records to investigators, and money laundering.
Henson postdated prescriptions and wrote them without a legitimate medical need in return for cash, federal officials said.
“Henson was prescribing opioid medications in amounts likely to lead to addiction, and in amounts so expensive that the patients would likely be forced by economic circumstances to support their addiction by selling some of the drugs to others,” US District Judge J. Thomas Marten said.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that his prescribing resulted in the 2015 death of one of his patients, Nick McGovern.
US Attorney Stephen McAllister said:
“For any doctors, pharmacists or nurses who disregard their oath and distribute powerful drugs illegally to enrich themselves, the message today is that they will be prosecuted to the full extent allowed by federal law.”
Local coverage from The Witchita Eagle …
A Wichita doctor who illegally distributed addictive prescription drugs has been sentenced to life in federal prison.
Judge J. Thomas Marten said it is “quite clear” that Dr. Steven R. Henson, 57, wrote multiple prescriptions without a legitimate medical purpose and “abused his position of trust as a licensed physician.”
“I have sentenced people to life before,” Marten said in court Friday. “They were people who took guns and shot people.”
One man died from an overdose after getting a prescription from Henson.
“I want this case to send a message to physicians and the health care community,” U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement. “Unlawfully distributing opioids and other controlled substances is a federal crime that could end a medical career and send an offender to prison.
“We are dealing with an epidemic. Nationwide, more than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from drug overdoses. That is more than all the American casualties during the war in Vietnam.”
Nicholas “Nick” McGovern died in July 2015 after overdosing on a mix of alprazolam and methadone prescribed to him by Henson.
It was the count relating to McGovern’s death on which Henson was sentenced to life in prison.
Defense attorney Michael Thompson contended during sentencing that Henson wasn’t writing the prescriptions “to make easy money on the side” because he didn’t need to. He said that the doctor “tried to do what he thought was best for his patients.”
“I only had one goal in life as a physician,” Henson said, “and that was to take excellent care of patients and to increase their functionality.” We Say Goodbye to Larry Nassar
But the judge cited Henson’s own testimony during the trial that he raised his fee from $50 to $300 to help pay rent on his medical office.
Federal investigators discovered that Henson would give pain-med prescriptions to patients for $300 in cash at a time, with few questions asked.
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