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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Doctor Conviction In Opioid Case

wooden gavel
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the conviction and sentence of a former Indialantic physician who was accused of prescribing excessive amounts of oxycodone to patients.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a series of arguments raised by John Gayden Jr., who was convicted of seven counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and sentenced to 235 months in prison.

The ruling said the Florida Department of Health closed Gayden’s medical practice in October 2011, and law enforcement agents began an investigation around the same time into his prescribing practices. A federal grand jury indicted him in 2016, leading to his conviction.

One of the issues in the appeal involved law enforcement’s use of a state prescription-drug database, known as the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, to review prescription records. Gayden contended that evidence gleaned from the database should have been suppressed because agents did not obtain a warrant before searching it.

But the appeals court said Gayden voluntarily entered information into the database and that he did not have a privacy interest in the records.

“Gayden attempts to vicariously assert a privacy interest here based on the sensitive and confidential nature of his patients’ medical records,” said the 16-page ruling, written by Judge Richard Tallman and joined by Judges Robin Rosenbaum and Beverly Martin.

“Although individual patients might arguably have a stronger basis to assert such a privacy interest in their own medical information, Gayden in his role as the prescriber does not have a similar privacy interest in the prescription records of his patients. Gayden cannot reasonably assert a privacy interest in his prescribing records that is solely derived from other people’s interest in the confidential nature of their own medical information which they choose to disclose to a pharmacist to get filled.”