A Texas doctor wrote unnecessary prescriptions for powerful drugs that contributed to the overdose deaths of at least seven people over a four-year period, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday. Howard Diamond, 56, was arrested Tuesday on charges that include conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and health care fraud, the AP reports. Prosecutors contend that Diamond began issuing prescriptions in 2010 that had no legitimate medical purpose. The prescriptions were for drugs such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, and morphine, according to the indictment. Authorities say the overdose deaths occurred in the Texas cities of Abilene, McKinney, and Sulphur Springs, and in the Oklahoma cities of Ardmore, Hugo, Idabel, and Yukon.
In each case, the seven people died within a month of filling the prescription provided by Diamond, the indictment states. One person filled a prescription for methadone in May 2013 and was dead two days later. In another instance, a woman only identified in the indictment by the initials T.H. filled a prescription in July 2014 for alprazolam, morphine, oxycodone, and zolpidem. She died 10 days after receiving the drugs. Diamond pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday. He is due in court again on Friday for a detention hearing. (Read more drug overdose stories.)