Residents voice support for "pill mill" doctor
MOUNT CARMEL, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WOLF) -- A Northumberland County doctor is out on bail amid federal charges that he operated a "pill mill," killing five of his patients.
The grand jury's indictment says he was prescribing highly addictive drugs outside of accepted practices.
Residents we spoke with seem to support him. Dr. Raymond Kraynak, 60, has two offices in this area, in Mt. Carmel and Shamokin.
He was also one of three in the county that had been approved for the new program to prescribe medical marijuana, but he's since been removed from that list.
Ask around Mt. Carmel and many people know or have been a patient of Dr. Kraynak.
"You're a good man. What happened to you is unwarranted and unjustified," says resident David Birch.
"I've been friends with him for a very long time. He's a wonderful doctor," says resident Carmella Makowski, a registered nurse.
But federal prosecutors disagree, saying he operated a "pill mill," improperly giving patients opioids since 2005. Five of them later died.
"Those people didn't have to do what they did with them either. I don't put all the blame on Dr. Ray. I like Dr. Ray," says resident Gail Wehry.
A grand jury says Kraynak gave out 3.6 million Oxycodone pills over a three-and-a-half year period from 2012 to 2015.
Then from January 2016 to August 2017, Kraynak prescribed 2.8 million doses of Oxycodone and other opioids including fentanyl to nearly 3,000 patients, according to the indictment.
That made him the top prescriber in the state during that time, the indictment says.
"He put Mt. Carmel on the map and we're all proud of him," says resident Jeff Dray, smiling sarcastically. "Ha ha ha!"
"It's up to the individual. A lot of these people who have died have chosen to misuse or overuse or maybe use needles," says Makowski.
The indictment says Dr. Kraynak would sometimes prescribe the meds without even seeing patients, and that he'd increase the doses, and send people to pharmacies known for filling them.
"He would do anything to help anyone as a person or a patient. Kind, loving, good doctor. He practices the Hippocratic oath," says Birch.
"I feel that it's up to the people he prescribes these medicines to, what they do with them," says Wehry.
Now, the government is trying to take his offices, get more than $500,000, and recoup proceeds from the alleged illegal activity.
We stopped by the homes listed in the doctor's last name on Sunday evening, but no one would talk.
One of Kraynak's patients can understand both sides.
"These people that get addicted to the pills, it's a darn shame. It can ruin lives," says Dray.
Kraynak was forced to surrender his DEA registration, allowing him to prescribe controlled substances. He's pleaded not guilty.
He was released Friday on $500,000 unsecured bail. The Department of Justice also posted a press release about Kraynak's charges.