After Martinsville doctor Joel Smithers was awarded a 40 year sentence for illegal Opioid prescription by the Western District Court of Virginia in Abingdon, many of Smithers’ patient came forward in his support. The patients have claimed that the prescription was to help them endure the extensive long-term pain.
While, the prosecutors have termed the extent of his prescription similar to an interstate drug distribution ring, the testimony of patients coming forward in support leads to the question, if Smithers is really guilty or just a victim.
The federal agents convicted the Virginia-based doctor in May when they knocked his office door in Martinsville with a search warrant. Joe Smithers was then charged for illegal opioid prescription as he prescribed more than 500,000 opioid tablets within a time period of 19 months, from 2015 to 2017.
The authorities have claimed that the convict advised the usage of life-endangering opioids like oxycodone and oxymorphone to patients. Moreover, he prescribed the opioids to patients hailing not only from Virginia but also Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.
Following the sentence, Attorney Thomas Cullen said that the sentence is not only severe in nature but also “serves as just punishment” for illegal Opioid prescription by the Martinsville-based doctor. Cullen said, “This physician perpetuated, on a massive scale, the vicious cycle of addiction and despair.”
Earlier, when Joel Smithers was convicted for illegal opioid prescription, Cullen in a statement said, “This defendant not only violated his Hippocratic Oath to his patients, but he perpetuated, on a massive scale, the vicious cycle of addiction, despair, and destruction.”
Apart from the 40 year prison sentence, 36-year-old Smithers has also been charged with a fine of $86,000 and three years of supervised release, once his 40-year prison time ends. He is charged with 800 federal drug charges which include one count of possessing with the intent to distribute controlled substances and one count of maintaining a place for the purpose of unlawfully distributing controlled substances.
Virginia has been quite stern about the opioid distribution lately, as McKesson Corporation was asked to pay $37 million in early May.
After being charged for illegal opioid prescription, in his testimony, Joel Smithers claimed that he was deceived by many of his patients as they claimed that health clinics near their resident were closed. In a heartfelt statement expressing regret, he said, “I learned several lessons the hard way about trusting people that I should not have trusted.”
Even though Smithers is held guilty by the jury, the statement of all those patients who came forward in his support should be examined. Furthermore, a thorough investigation should be conducted to ensure that he is not a scapegoat and to corroborate the statement of patients, to see if they are telling the truth.
Whatsoever be the case, the speculations surrounding Joel Smithers sentence for illegal opioid prescription can only be answered in future if an independent investigation is conducted, although the chances seem bleak.