Alabama doctor arrested by federal agents will remain in custody

Lee County doctor arrested by federal agents

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - An Alabama doctor arrested Thursday by federal agents who executed search warrants at his offices in Opelika and Gulf Shores will remain in jail until at least Monday.

Dr. James Henry Edwards III requested a detention hearing Thursday afternoon. It was determined he would remain in federal custody until that hearing, which will take place on Monday.

Edwards’ arrest came after a complaint was filed for allegedly issuing prescriptions for controlled substances without a legimate medical reason. Few other details about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s operation were immediately clear.

Representatives from the Alabama Department of Public Health were outside of the Opelika office Thursday handing out paperwork to everyone who was turned away from Edwards’ office.

A sign on the building at Dr. James Edwards' office indicates he practices psychiatry and child psychiatry.
A sign on the building at Dr. James Edwards' office indicates he practices psychiatry and child psychiatry. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

“The paperwork helps the client call myself or the hotline to see if we can help them find different providers," said Jamey Durham with ADPH. "We are just trying to do the best we can to place people as soon as we can so they can continue their treatment and they don’t have a break in continuity. That is our hope in this situation, this unfortunate situation.”

A member of the DEA enters the Opelika offices of Dr. James Edwards following his arrest after being accused of over-prescribing controlled substances.
A member of the DEA enters the Opelika offices of Dr. James Edwards following his arrest after being accused of over-prescribing controlled substances. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

A 21-page document from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners shines some light on the Board’s issues with Dr. Edwards’ medical practices. A consent order from the BME indicates Dr. Edwards was interviewed in early 2018 “regarding his prescribing of controlled substances."

In May of 2018, the Board issued an Order to Show Cause that alleged Dr. Edwards “excessively dispensed controlled substances,” and ordered him to prove why his Alabama Controlled Substances Certificate, or ACSC "should not be revoked.”

The Board opened an investigation in which its expert reviewed twelve patient records and found probable cause that Dr. Edwards had been “dispensing excessive dosages and amounts of stimulants medications (controlled substances) to all twelve...”, that he’d been “dispensing controlled substances in amounts not reasonably related to the proper medical management” for eight of the patients, and that he had been “dispensing controlled substances for no legitimate medical purpose” to ten of the patients.

Dr. Edwards, who’s had a medical license with the State of Alabama since 2011, denied the allegations against him but reached a settlement with the Board, foregoing a hearing which could result in disciplinary action which could include license revocation.

In light of the settlement, he agreed that he was dispensing excessive amounts of stimulants and prescribed hazardous excessive doses of medications.

As a result of the settlement, Dr. Edwards agreed to having his authority revoked to order, manufacture, distribute, possess, dispense, administer, or prescribe controlled substances.

The Board of Medical Examiners agreed to suspend the revocation of his ACSC and put him on probation for at least 24 months. Dr. Edwards’ medical license became “active-conditional” following the settlement.

The Board gave Dr. Edwards 120 days to rectify his prescribing habits and ordered him to follow strict guidelines.

It’s unclear if this finding by the Board prompted the federal charge and subsequent search warrants.

Edwards remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals. WSFA 12 News was unable to reach a representative for the doctor to obtain a comment.

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