Oklahoma’s attorney general has charged Doctor Regan Nichols with 5 counts of second degree murder. Nichols, 67, is accused of prescribing unnecessary medications in excessive amounts that resulted in 5 patient deaths between 2010-2013.
The patients, ages 21-55 years, were all died from multi-drug toxicity according to the report from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner.
Some of the drug combinations included Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Alprazolam, and Carisoprodol. Three of the patients had received drug combinations considered “deadly” and “addictive,” according to an affidavit and the prescriptions were signed by Nichols.
Findings from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control’s Prescription Monitoring cite more than 3 million doses of controlled drugs that were prescribed by Nichols. The Attorney General also reportedly alleged that Nichols was responsible for up to 10 deaths during this time period though she is only being charged in 5 at this time.
The affidavit is from a 2015 hearing which resulted in Nichols being stripped of her ability to prescribe controlled drugs for 5 years. After that decision by Oklahoma’s State Board of Osteopathic Examiners, however, Nichols turned over her credentials voluntarily.
Statements in the affidavit show that Nichols continued to prescribe medications while recognizing that they had developed a tolerance for them. She also reportedly prescribed to marijuana users knowingly, despite regulations against doing so. In some places, even prescribed medical marijuana is not allowed in concurrence with other controlled substances.
Nichols was arrested on Friday and her bond set at $50,000. Her arrest comes as attention is increasing nationwide to the opioid drug abuse epidemic. The affidavit used to show probable cause for Nichols’ indictment stated that she prescribed dangerously high amounts of some of the drugs associated with abuse, “including the most abused and sought after drugs on the street” often without establishing a true need or performing a thorough examination beforehand.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs began investigating Nichols in October, 2014, after a former patient tipped them off.