An Oklahoma doctor is facing five counts of second-degree murder charges following the opioid overdose deaths of her patients.
Prosecutors charged osteopathic physician Regan Ganoung Nichols, 57, on Friday in Oklahoma County District Court. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter told reporters that Nichols prescribed trusting patients a “horrifyingly excessive” amount of opioid medications. “Nichols’ blatant disregard for the lives of her patients is unconscionable,” he said.
In all, Nichols allegedly prescribed more than 1,800 medically unnecessary opioid pills to the patients who died, according to a probable cause affidavit reported by the Associated Press. Three out of the five patients also received allegedly deadly combinations of painkillers, muscle relaxants, and anti-anxiety medications.
The charges are the latest in a new trend among authorities and law enforcement to target doctors as well as pharmaceutical companies for their role in a devastating nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse and overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 91 Americans die each day from the drugs.