An Oklahoma City doctor is arraigned on 81 felony counts, nine for murder.
Dr. William Valuck took a deep breath as an Oklahoma County Judge reads the charges against him. Oklahoma County Prosecutors filed nine counts of first degree murder and 72 counts of distributing a controlled dangerous substance against Valuck on Wednesday.
Valuck is accused of over-prescribing medications to his patients. Eight of his patients died of drug overdoses. Another patient killed a man while allegedly driving under the influence of painkillers prescribed by Valuck.
Court records reveal he was prescribing pain medications at a rate that would exceed more than 3.5 million pills in a year. Valuck had a pain management practice in southwest Oklahoma City but his patients were filling prescriptions at pharmacies all over the state – including Broken Arrow, Tulsa, Stillwater, Collinsville, Checotah, Wewoka, Atoka, Ponca City, McAlester, Hill, and Hugo.
The prescriptions were given in large doses.
"I mean she would come out with prescriptions for 120 Loritabs, soma, Xanax, valiums, who does that?" Kathy Green said of her late sister's experience with Dr. Valuck.
Complaints from concerned family members, pharmacies, and even some patients, themselves, were reported to the Oklahoma Board of Osteopathic Examiners. Oklahoma Board of Osteopathic Examiner Executive Director Deborah Bruce said it began investigating in March 2012.
The board pulled Valuck's patients medical records, medical examiner reports and interviewed witnesses. By April 2013, Valuck was served with formal written complaint..
"With a case as large as Dr. Valuck's it can take as long as 12 months to conduct a thorough investigation." Bruce said.
Still, Valuck requested the disciplinary hearing be delayed so he could get a lawyer. The second delay was the result of a schedule conflict with Valuck's attorney and the courts. During the time that passed, Valuck's patients were dying because of his alleged overprescribing.
"Valuck's case was considered a high priority investigation" Bruce added ," each case requires the proper legal process," said Bruce. "This is the first time she has heard of a doctor being charged with murder under these circumstances."
The Oklahoma County District Attorney's office did not issue a comment in time for this report.