OxyContin Death Draws Guilty Plea

Va. man was charged with murder in friend's overdose of controversial painkiller

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A man who injected a friend with OxyContin, then tried to get rid of the body after the friend died, faces up to 81 years in prison in what appears to be the first murder charge related to the painkiller that has caused more than 100 fatal overdoses.

According to an article from ABCNews, Nicholas Dickerson went to the Tazewell County, Va., home of Robert Stallard last September, wanting to get high. Stallard, 43, injected OxyContin into Dickerson's arm. Dickerson, 40, then went to lay down in a bedroom. Stallard later found him dead and, rather than calling 911, tried to get rid of the body.

Stallard this week pleaded guilty to murder, drug distribution and unlawful disposal of a human body. Gregg Wood, a health care fraud investigator for the U.S. attorney's office, says he knows of no other murder charges resulting from an OxyContin overdose. Wood monitors OxyContin-related crimes nationwide.

OxyContin is a federally approved painkiller that is intended for terminal cancer patients and other chronic-pain sufferers. It is synthetic morphine, the article says. But its illegal use has grown significantly and it has been linked to about 120 fatal overdoses nationwide. It is made by the drugmaker Purdue Pharma, which last May suspended shipments of its largest dose, the 160-milligram tablet. The drug also is known by its generic name, oxycodone.

To find out more about OxyContin, and how it earned its nickname "hillbilly heroin," you can read this article from USA TODAY. For more on the legal use of the drug, you can read this from CenterWatch.

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