There were 37 cases charging criminal malpractice against physicians from 2001-2011, and most of the recent cases involved over-prescribing painkillers and other controlled substances. For example, prosecutors have charged Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, MD, with involuntary manslaughter for prescriptions he wrote that have been connected to the pop star's death.
The trend is partly due to wider interpretations of existing laws. Many recent cases cite the 1970 Controlled Substances Act and similar state laws, which allow criminal charges against physicians who knowingly prescribe outside "the usual course of professional practice" or without a "legitimate medical purpose."
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