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Papers Filed in Pharmacist’s Trial

November 23, 2002

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Prosecutors filed court papers Friday in which two specialists concluded a pharmacist’s scheme to weaken chemotherapy treatments hastened, and perhaps caused, a cancer patient’s death.

The documents were filed to support prosecutors’ request for the stiffest possible sentence for pharmacist Robert R. Courtney. Under terms of a plea agreement, he could be sentenced to 17 1/2 to 30 years in prison at a hearing Dec. 5.

Courtney’s attorneys said the government cannot prove a link between his actions and the death of Evelyn Coates. They said Courtney should get the minimum sentence because he pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities.

In the court papers, two oncologists agreed Coates’ August 2001 death from complications of ovarian cancer came sooner than if she had received full doses of chemotherapy.

``It is even possible she could have been cured,″ one of the doctors wrote.

Courtney, 49, pleaded guilty in February to 20 felony counts of tampering with, adulterating and misbranding the expensive cancer drugs Gemzar and Taxol.

In his guilty plea, Courtney admitted diluting drugs for 34 patients on 158 occasions in 2001. He has since admitted to diluting drugs since 1992, affecting as many as 4,200 patients.

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