Board suspends doctor's license

07/21/2006 ALBANY - The state Medical Board has suspended the license of an Albany physician who is accused of over-prescribing pain medication, including potent narcotics such as Dilaudid and OxyContin, that may be linked to at least six deaths, officials said Thursday.

Dougherty County District Attorney Ken Hodges applauded the board's action against Dr. George C. Lawrence Jr., who was charged July 6 with possession of a controlled substance and released on bond.

"Albany is a safer place because of that action," Hodges said.

Prosecutors filed the possession charge initially just to prevent him from writing more prescriptions, Hodges said. As the lengthy investigation progresses, Lawrence could face additional charges, including involuntary manslaughter and felony murder, he said.

With nearly 100 cases in which the doctor may have over-prescribed drugs, the investigation is expected to continue for weeks, said Hodges, who has appealed to the public for additional information that might be relevant to the case.

As many as six patients could have died as a direct result over-prescribing medications, but the number could be as high as 10 or 12, Hodges said. Some of the patients were elderly and could have died from other causes, he said.

"As we gather all the information and study the law, we'll craft an indictment" Hodges said. "Dr. Lawrence was prescribing in far greater quantities than what one person could safely take."

Lawrence did not have privileges at either of the town's two hospitals. He has not commented publicly on his legal problems. His home phone has been disconnected and no one answered Thursday on his office phone.

Hodges said he didn't know if the doctor had hired an attorney.

Shortly after Lawrence's arrest, investigators closed his office and seized computers, patient and financial records and other documents.

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