Oklahoma physician charged with 5 counts of murder for 'horrifyingly excessive' opioid prescriptions

An Oklahoma physician was charged Friday with five counts of second-degree murder for prescribing what prosecutors called a "horrifyingly excessive" amount of opioids to five female patients, according to The Hill.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics reported Regan Nichols, DO, prescribed 3 million units of controlled substances to patients at Oklahoma City-based pain management clinic Sunshine Medical in Midwest City between January 2010 and October 2014, according to News9.com.

Investigators say a specific combination of opioids and sedatives, including hydrocodone, Xanax and Soma, led to the overdose deaths of five patients. Medical journals say this combination of opioids, an anti-anxiety medication and muscle relaxant causes a spike of dopamine in the body while impairing respiratory functions. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Dr. Nichols "knowingly prescribed controlled dangerous substances" with an "extreme disregard for human life," according to The Hill.

Dr. Nichols signed prescriptions for a total of 1,800 painkillers to five patients between 2010 and 2013, each of whom died of drug toxicity within a month of visiting the clinic. One patient died the same day she visited Dr. Nichols' clinic, according to News9.com.

Although her medical license is still active, the Oklahoma Board of Osteopathic Examiners suspended Dr. Nichols' ability to prescribe narcotics in 2015 due to the investigation.

Dr. Nichols posted a $50,000 bond June 23 after her arrest. She may face additional murder charges for the deaths of other patients who died under her care, according to News9.com.

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