Pennsylvania physician arrested in relation to patient's opioid-overdose death

Law enforcement arrested a Du Bois, Pa.-based family medicine physician on Thursday for charges related to the alleged unlawful prescription of opioids, which contributed to the overdoses of two patients, one of whom died.

Henry Dela Torre, MD, allegedly prescribed opioids — including fentanyl and oxycodone — to two patients, a brother and sister, with a history of addiction in April 2015. In August 2016, police launched an investigation into the family medicine physician after one of the patients — Rachel Shumaker — overdosed and died. Subsequently, the deceased patient's brother — Randal Shumaker — overdosed on opioids prescribed by Dr. Dela Torre in September 2016. Mr. Shumaker survived the overdose after first responders administered Narcan.

"The illegal diversion and misuse of prescription drugs are fueling the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania," said Josh Shapiro, state attorney general. "Our arrests for unlawful diversions are up 72 percent from a year ago, and we've added resources to attack this growing problem. Whether you're a drug dealer on the street corner or a physician, if your actions help fuel this epidemic, we're coming after you."

Law enforcement charged Dr. Dela Torre with violations of the Controlled Substances Act, Medicaid fraud and other related offenses. The court set bail at $150,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Feb. 21.

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