Dracut Doctor Whose Opioid Prescriptions Allegedly Led to Patient’s Death Arraigned
WOBURN -- In a first-of-its-kind case in Massachusetts, a retired Dracut doctor who allegedly illegally prescribed opioids that resulted in an at-risk patient’s death was released on personal recognizance Thursday morning in Middlesex Superior Court.
Dr. Richard Miron, 76, of Dracut, pleaded not guilty at his brief arraignment before Assistant Clerk Magistrate Michelle Goldman. He remained straight-faced as each charge against him was read aloud.
The doctor was indicted earlier this month by a Middlesex County grand jury on 23 counts of illegal prescribing of controlled substances, 23 counts of filing false Medicaid claims, and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Miron had practiced internal medicine in Dracut until he entered into a voluntary agreement this month not to practice with the Board of Registration in Medicine, according to a statement released Thursday by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.
This is the first time in the state that there’s been a doctor indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge for allegedly illegally prescribing opioids.
“We have proposed conditions (for) released on personal (recognizance) for your consideration,” Assistant Attorney General Steven Hoffman, who spoke on behalf of the state, told Goldman during the arraignment. “Those are, number one: no overnight travel outside the commonwealth without permission of probation or the court and sign a waiver of rendition and, two, not apply for a passport. Counsel has represented that the defendant does not presently have a passport.”
Miron was represented by Jay Lee, a lawyer with the Lowell firm of Gallagher & Cavanaugh. Lee declined to comment on the case before the arraignment.
The AG’s Office alleges Miron was responsible for the death of his patient, Michelle Craib, 50, on March 17, 2016. The Office of the chief medical examiner determined the woman’s death was caused by acute intoxication from the combined effects of fentanyl, morphine, codeine and butalbital, all prescribed by Miron.
The AG’s Office on Thursday released Craib’s identity in the statement of the case. According to the statement, Craib was found dead in her apartment in Lowell. Responders found two fentanyl patches attached to her abdomen and police found many prescription bottles at the scene, including morphine, oxycodone, and Fioricet with codeine, all prescribed by Miron.
“The post-mortem toxicology is entirely consistent with the opioids prescribed by Dr. Miron,” the statement of the case reads.
Miron was “shocked and deeply saddened” to learn of the charges brought against him, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon by the firm representing him. The statement read, in part: “Dr. Miron is a well-respected medical professional who, after training and serving five years in the U.S. Army, practiced Internal Medicine for nearly a half-century -- in Chelmsford, Lowell, and Dracut -- before retiring earlier this year. During those five decades, Dr. Miron worked very hard to provide exemplary care and treatment to hundreds of area residents, never once being the subject of a Complaint in front of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Medicine or any other forum previous to this matter.”
The firm emphasized that Miron “vehemently denies the allegations made against him.”
The attorney general began investigating the doctor in September 2017 after the matter was referred by MassHealth. Miron was the largest provider of high-dose, short-acting oxycodone prescriptions of all MassHealth care providers across the state from September 2015 to February 2016. MassHealth terminated the doctor from its program in September 2017.
In a phone interview with The Sun last week, Healey said the opioid epidemic itself must be combated from different angles.
“It’s a public health crisis and it remains a top priority of my office,” Healey said of the opioid crisis. “With respect to prescribers, the vast majority of prescribers are good and trying to do the right thing. This is not about them. This is about rooting out the outliers who have been contributing to the crisis through illegal prescribing.”
According to her obituary which ran in The Sun on March 29, 2016, Craib is survived by her two sons, her father, three sisters, her granddaughter, nieces and nephews, and was preceded in death by her husband and mother.
Miron is due again in court on Jan. 29, 2019 for a scheduling conference and appointment of counsel.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.