- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) - A southwestern Montana doctor has pleaded not guilty to 400 felony counts that allege he overprescribed pain medication, leading to the deaths of two patients and potential injuries to others.

Chris Arthur Christensen made an initial appearance in District Court in Hamilton on Tuesday. His bail was set at $20,000 and he requested a public defender for a trial that officials say could last up to a month, the Ravalli Republic (https://bit.ly/1KqYrFb ) reported.

Christensen, 67, faces two counts of negligent homicide, nine counts of criminal endangerment related to the potential for overdoses and 389 felony counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.

Prosecutors allege Christensen prescribed thousands of narcotics and anti-anxiety drugs to patients, leading to the mixed drug overdose deaths of two patients. Charging documents allege his clinic operated on a cash-only basis and grossed more than $500,000 annually.

Christensen’s Big Creek Family Medicine Clinic in Florence was raided in April 2014 and Christensen’s license was suspended. The state agreed to issue him a probationary license in May 2015 if he agreed to acknowledge some wrongdoing and work under the supervision of another physician.

The Drug Enforcement Administration will not give Christensen the authority to prescribe controlled substances, said Ravalli County Attorney Thorin Geist.

Christensen’s next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 28.

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Information from: Ravalli Republic, https://www.ravallirepublic.com


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