M.D.’s Are the New Pain-Pill Crime Wave- ‘A Perfect Storm’
The doctor, who devoted her life to treating low-income AIDS patients, had pleaded guilty to a staggering violation of her medical oath. Diana Williamson, 56, admitted she had written prescriptions for tens of thousands of powerful painkillers, which were then sold on the black market by a convicted drug dealer.
In preparation for her sentencing, Williamson’s lawyers filed court papers last month containing an unusual defense: They said she had suffered from a multiple personality disorder for 25 years as a result of childhood sexual abuse by a priest. Williamson told her psychiatrists that she had no memory of committing the crimes—that one of her alter egos, a mischievous, immature teenager named Nala, was responsible. Nala “committed these crimes without telling Diana or the other parts of me about them,” she wrote in a letter to the presiding judge.
Williamson still awaits sentencing, but the case, unusual as the details are, is hardly an anomaly. It is just one consequence of an epidemic that has spread across the region and continues to thwart government and law-enforcement efforts to stop it.
The prescription-painkiller problem presents itself in myriad ways: fatal drug overdoses, pharmacy robberies, Medicaid fraud, and “doctor shopping” by addicts looking for a friendly physician who will prescribe the painkillers without asking too many questions. And then there are the doctors and medical professionals who dive right into the fray.