TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), together with Jeffrey Singer, M.D., has filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the conviction of Dr. Xiulu Ruan, who is now serving a 21-year sentence in federal prison for prescribing controlled substances “outside the usual course of professional practice.”
The key question presented, on which the circuit courts are deeply divided, is whether a physician can be convicted without regard to whether, in good faith, he “reasonably believed” or “subjectively intended” that his prescriptions fall within that course of professional practice.
“Lengthy incarceration without proving criminal intent is tyrannical,” states the brief. “A 21-year imprisonment for medicating pain deters all physicians against fully treating patients who suffer. Undertreatment of pain inevitably results when a robust good faith defense is denied. Dr. Ruan acted in good faith as shown by an unsuccessful undercover sting operation against him, but that evidence and testimony by supportive patients were all withheld from the jury.”
If an Eleventh Circuit Court decision is allowed to stand, “nearly any physician who treats pain is at risk of an arbitrary 21-year imprisonment based on a small fraction of his prescriptions,” the brief argues.
In its decision, the Eleventh Circuit “begins its characterization of Dr. Ruan not by analyzing his mens rea or even his medical decisionmaking, but by citing how much money he made over nearly a half-decade, which was not extraordinary on an annual basis given the high cost of becoming a physician.”
Nothing in the War on Drugs justifies blocking a good-faith defense, or permitting the exclusion of exculpatory evidence, AAPS concludes.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943. Its motto is omnia pro aegroto (everything for the patient).
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SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)