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Psychiatrist prescribed excessive amounts of drugs to Anna Nicole Smith, expert testifies

The expert says medical records show at least five instances in which Dr. Khristine Eroshevich overprescribed Valium, Vicodin or other drugs in the three years leading up to the model's death.

October 27, 2009|Harriet Ryan

A psychiatrist described as a close friend and maternal figure to Anna Nicole Smith repeatedly prescribed excessive amounts of sedatives and opiates despite the model's history of substance abuse, an expert testified Monday.

The expert told a judge hearing evidence against Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and two others that medical and pharmacy records indicated at least five instances in which the psychiatrist overprescribed Valium, Vicodin or other drugs in the three years leading up to Smith's death.

The treatment, Dr. Timothy Botello concluded, represented "an extreme departure" from the normal standard of care.

Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to try Eroshevich; Smith's internist, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor; and Smith's boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, for illegally furnishing the onetime Playboy playmate with prescription medication. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Eroshevich, 61, lived next door to Smith in Studio City. The two socialized and even shared holiday meals, according to the testimony of other witnesses at the hearing.

After the death of Smith's son in September 2006, Eroshevich rushed to be at her side in the Bahamas and became the primary physician prescribing her medication, including chloral hydrate -- the sedative chiefly blamed for her overdose, according to testimony.

Botello said that even before the death of Smith's son, Eroshevich was providing her with too many drugs. According to medical records he reviewed, Smith was treated for addiction to alcohol and Vicodin at the Betty Ford Center in 1996 and was hospitalized a decade later for withdrawal from methadone and Xanax. He cited a period in August 2006 -- six months before the model died -- when Eroshevich prescribed the then-pregnant Smith three similar sedatives to be taken at the same time.

"With a history of substance abuse, I could not find a legitimate medical purpose for prescribing all three throughout the day," he testified.

Eroshevich's attorney has portrayed her as a concerned friend who may have strayed out of her medical depth in a desperate attempt to help someone she cared about deal with major depression. Under cross-examination, Botello acknowledged that there was no indication in the medical records that other physicians, including Kapoor, told Eroshevich about Smith's past problems with drug dependency.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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