A Colorado doctor accused of illegally prescribing anti-depressants to a Stanford University student who later committed suicide
was sentenced today in San Mateo County Superior Court to nine months in county jail for practicing medicine without a California medical license. Christian Hageseth, 68, prescribed the medication to 19-year-old Stanford student John McKay over the Internet in June 2005. McKay committed suicide two months later. San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the district attorney’s office was pleased with the outcome. “From the beginning we knew we were embarking on uncharted waters and we’ve been successful at having convicted him and giving him a lengthy sentence,” Wagstaffe said. Wagstaffe said Hageseth, who was additionally sentenced to three years’ probation, is allowed to serve his nine-month jail term in Colorado if the probation department there agrees to the proposition. Hageseth pleaded no contest to the felony charge in February. At the plea entry, Hageseth’s attorney Carleton Briggs said that it was initially argued that the anti-depressants, which he described as fluoxetine
hydrochloride, or a generic form of Prozac, caused McKay to commit suicide at his Menlo Park home. He said, however, that is not the case and that the drugs were not found to be related to the suicide. Briggs said his client had recent heart surgery and pleaded no contest for health reasons, in order to resolve the litigation. At the core of the case was the question of whether Hageseth broke
the law by prescribing drugs to a patient in California, a state where he was not licensed to practice medicine. He did have a license in Colorado but surrendered it in 2005 after McKay’s death, Briggs said. Briggs said the case explored uncharted territory in terms of the regulation of online prescriptions to out-of-state patients. Wagstaffe said today’s outcome was satisfactory for the McKay
family. “The father is very pleased with the outcome and feels that justice has been served,” Wagstaffe said.
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