Elvis Presley’s doctor lost his license Wednesday when the state decided he over-prescribed addictive drugs to patients, including Jerry Lee Lewis.
The Board of Medical Examiners found George Nichopoulos guilty of gross malpractice and unethical conduct with 13 patients.
“The doctor himself agreed that some of his patients were addicts, yet he gave them their drug of choice,” board member Dr. Edgar Scott said. “That’s certainly unethical.”
Nichopoulos, 67, did all he could to help patients who were in chronic pain, including a person who had back surgery seven times, said his lawyer, Daniel Warlick.
The soft-spoken, white-haired doctor called the decision “idiotic.”
He suggested it stemmed from resentment over Presley’s death and said he was being singled out because of his high profile.
A health department lawyer denied it. “He should have known better,” A. Yarnell Beatty said. “He was told this wasn’t proper conduct.”
In 1981, a jury found Nichopoulos innocent of charges that he indiscriminately and negligently prescribed drugs to Presley. Traces of 14 prescription stimulants and depressants were found in Presley’s body when he died of heart disease on Aug. 16, 1977, at age 42.
In 1980, the board suspended Nichopoulos’ license for three months for over-prescribing drugs.
Nichopoulos lost his license to prescribe certain drugs shortly after charges were filed in March 1992.
Nichopoulos’ lawyer asked the board to let the doctor continue to practice while he appeals. Chairman Oscar McCallum said he will decide within 10 days.
Lewis received addictive drugs from Nichopoulos “without a legitimate medical purpose” as recently as March 1990, the board found.