March 15, 2014
A northern Virginia doctor who used controversial pain management techniques has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison on federal drug charges.
The sentence is far less than the life sentence sought by prosecutors, who claimed that Dr. William Hurwitz of McLean crossed the line from doctor to drug dealer in his medical practice.
Judge Leonie Brinkema said that the 61-year-old saved people's lives with his willingness to prescribe massive amounts of opiates to people with debilitating pain. But she faulted him for ignoring clear signals that some of his patients were obvious drug dealers or abusers.
Hurwitz had previously been sentenced to 25 years in prison but that first conviction in 2004 was overturned by a federal appeals court.
Brinkema said that the doctor benefited from the passage of time in the two cases, because medical opinion has moved more in the direction of supporting Hurwitz's controversial techniques.