The second of two local doctors said to have illegally distributed pain medication pleaded not guilty in federal court this afternoon.
Dr. Xiulu Ruan owns and operates Physician’s Pain Specialists of Alabama (PPSA) along with John Patrick Couch, who was arraigned in Mobile earlier this month.In court today, Ruan plead guilty to charges he and Couch conspired with each other to “knowingly and willfully distribute and dispense schedule II controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice and for no legitimate medical purpose.”
The pair was indicted on May 20. In Mobile, Couch pleaded not guilty that same day, but Ruan was in Atlanta when the indictment was first released. At the time, he was escorted by U.S. Marshalls to a courthouse in Georgia for an initial appearance, but was not arraigned as was initially reported by Lagniappe.
According to Tommy Loftis, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal law states a defendant must appear at the “nearest district to where they are taken into custody.” However, Loftis couldn’t give a reason why Ruan was in Atlanta at the time of his arrest.
Ruan was since extradited to Mobile, but was allowed to travel to Maryland for his daughter’s college graduation prior to his arraignment this afternoon, but was required to wear an electronic monitoring device. The court has since allowed Ruan to remove that device.The arrest of the physicians caused quite a stir among their patients, many of whom rushed to get medical records the following day, and some of whom were concerned with experiencing withdrawals if they couldn’t find another way to get their medication.
Dennis Knizley, Ruan’s Attorney, maintained his innocence, calling him an “extremely talented, highly educated and highly credentialed individual.”
“Pain management is a highly specialized field,” Knizley said. “Some of these testing procedures are expensive, but medically necessary in the process of helping those patients that need controlled doses of these powerful drugs. To deny these patients that access would be a crime in itself.”
Jury selection for Ruan’s trial is set for Aug. 3 in U.S. District Court in Mobile, and Knizley said he hopes the trial will give his client a chance “to educate the jury as to the complexity of this area of medical science.”