Sirens & Gavels

Jury clears doctor in drug case

A jury cleared a former North Idaho doctor this week of allegations that he overprescribed drugs nearly a decade ago.

Chris Arthur Christensen was acquitted on three federal charges in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene after a week-long jury trial.

It was the second trial for the former Silverton, Idaho doctor, who was indicted in 2006 after a lengthy investigation by Idaho State Police.

The first jury acquitted Christensen on six counts in June but couldn’t reach a verdict on 12 counts.

Federal prosecutors retried Christensen on three counts of prescribing methadone, hydrocodone and/or alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug, “outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose” for incidents between Dec. 28, 2000 and Jan. 12, 2001. Witnesses included an ISP detective who posed as a patient to visit Christensen.

Christensen always denied wrong doing, according to his defense lawyer, David E. DokkenÖ, of Lewiston.

“He was a thorough and competent doctor who passionately pursued his practice,” according to court documents prepared by Dokken.

Christensen originally was indicted on charges relating to the deaths of several patients.

In 1998, a state investigation found that Christensen prescribed painkillers and narcotics to seven patients without treating their underlying problems, according to previously published reports.

In 2001, Christensen agreed to voluntarily give up his license for two years and undergo at least a six-month pain management course after the Idaho State Board of Medicine accused him of prescribing drugs that resulted in a patient’s death.

He also agreed to pay the state $2,000 to cover its investigative costs.

Jurors deliberated for about 10 hours before acquitting Christensen on Wednesday.

Christensen had a practice in Victor, Mont, as of May 2009, but it’s unclear if it’s still open.




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