BRIDGEWATER, N.S. — A witness testifying at a Nova Scotia doctor's drug-trafficking trial gasped Wednesday after hearing that thousands of oxycodone pills were prescribed by Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones to her former roommate in a single month.
Norma Wentzell testified that Jones would bring Merle Chase roughly 30 oxycodone pills a month. She appeared shocked when Crown lawyer Josh Bryson read from a patient expense report that showed 2,000 OxyNeo pills were prescribed to Chase in one month, during the 18-month time frame of the alleged offences.
"Oh my gosh, no," Wentzell said after being asked if Chase had ever received 2,000 oxycodone pills in a single month.
Chase, who lived with Wentzell in Bridgewater, N.S., said Jones would make house calls in 2014 and 2015 to bring the 68-year-old his prescription drugs.
Wentzell said Jones would come to the home roughly every two weeks in 2014, but didn't come as often in 2015.
Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Stan MacDonald pointed to apparent contradictions in Wentzell's testimony.
He showed the former retail worker a statement she gave to police in February 2016 in which she said Jones "went wild" in 2015 and was coming to the house "a lot."
Jones sat quietly during Chase's morning testimony, occasionally taking notes.
The accused has pleaded not guilty to possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking, drawing a document without authority, and fraud.
When charges were laid more than a year ago, police alleged Jones wrote prescriptions for 46,000 oxycodone and OxyNeo pills for one patient. Police allege the drugs were diverted to the community.
The case first came to light in August 2015 when a pharmacist reported unusual activity to the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Jones was suspended by the college, which regulates the medical profession in the province.
Later Wednesday, Dr. Shauna Herman — co-owner of the clinic where Jones worked in Upper Tantallon, N.S. — testified that Jones was "asked to leave" Crossroads Family Practice in October 2015, although she did not say why.
Herman said she was not aware of the amount of oxycodone being prescribed to Chase. Crown attorney Jill Hartlen asked her what she would have said to Jones if she had known about the dosage of OxyNeo being prescribed to Chase.
"I would have most likely said that it is a very high and likely inappropriate and even dangerous amount of medication," Herman told the judge-only trial.
Herman was also asked about compensation for doctors at her clinic.
Court heard Tuesday that Jones prescribed OxyNeo in Chase's name multiple times in 2014 and 2015, but the retired truck driver testified that he did not receive the bulk of those prescriptions.
But Chase was not consistent in his testimony about how many OxyNeo prescriptions he actually received from Jones, how many pills he took and the last time he took them.
The trial continues Thursday.
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Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press