The Opelika psychiatrist recently arrested and facing federal drug charges was indicted Tuesday by a federal court.
Dr. James Henry Edwards III, 72, of Fairhope, was indicted on three counts of unlawfully distributing controlled substance by writing medically illegitimate prescriptions, according to a statement Tuesday from U.S. Attorney Louis V. Franklin Sr.’s Office.
Edwards was arrested July 11 after agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency served search warrants at his offices in Opelika and Gulf Shores.
Among the drugs prosecutors say Edwards unlawfully prescribed are: alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax; dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, commonly known as Adderall; hydrocodone, commonly known as Norco, and Lortab; lisdexamfetamine, commonly known as Vyvanse; and diazepam, commonly known as Valium, the release says.
Edwards faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment on each count if convicted. He also faces monetary penalties and restitution. Edwards pleaded not guilty to each count as his arraignment.
Edwards’ case is scheduled to go trial Dec. 2 in Opelika.
Edwards was being investigated by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners for more than a year before his arrest in connection to over-prescribing stimulant medications, according to a May 2018 "Order to Show Cause" filed by the board.
The board began an investigation of Edwards and had an expert review 12 patient records during the investigation, according to the Show Cause Order.
The investigation and the expert review revealed Edwards committed three violations that pertain to controlled substances, it states.
A January 2019 Joint Stipulation and Consent Order filed by the board states it interviewed Edwards in February 2018 regarding his prescribing of controlled substances.
The joint stipulation was entered into as a settlement between Edwards and the board as a compromise and to avoid further litigation, according to the document.
The document expressly states that Edwards denies the allegations in the Order to Show Cause and argues that he is not guilty of the allegations.
The board placed Edwards on probation for a minimum of two years. Also, the board lists 14 conditions to the agreement, including only prescribing stimulants to patients with ADHD and limiting the daily dosage of stimulants for ADHD patients, both adult and pediatric, according to the document.
Multiple agencies involved
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross, Megan A. Kirkpatrick and Alice S. LaCour are prosecuting the current federal case.
It was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General.
The Opelika Police Department, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, the Gulf Shores Police Department, the United States Department of Defense – Office of Inspector General and the Alabama Department of Public Health assisted on the case.