updated 5/25/2007 9:10:15 PM ET 2007-05-26T01:10:15

Authorities are bracing for a crime wave by people cut off from painkillers after the arrest of a doctor suspected of repeatedly prescribing OxyContin with few or no questions asked.

The county’s mayor and chief prosecutor called a news conference announcing they feared that addicted patients would choose heroin or rob pharmacies for more drugs.

“If they turn to a life of crime, they will get my office,” District Attorney Lohra Miller declared Friday.

Nobody at the news conference was able to put a number on Dr. Warren Stack’s troubled patients, or cite any specific crimes they might already have committed.

A state licensing board, meanwhile, called Stack a danger to public health and pulled his medical license during an emergency hearing Friday.

Stack was not at the hearing and wouldn’t have been invited, but he can appeal the decision to the same board, Utah Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said.

Surge in treatment requests
Stack was arrested May 16 on suspicion of illegal distribution of controlled substances and led out of a clinic packed with a standing-room-only crowd of patients. Some were on the floor.

The director of a rehabilitation clinic said it has seen a surge in people looking for help with OxyContin addiction. On Thursday 21 people called, four times the usual rate, Joel Millard of Project Reality said.

Stack is out on bail, but his clinic in a Salt Lake City suburb remained closed. The Associated Press couldn’t find a telephone listing for Stack, and prosecutors said they had no record identifying an attorney.

Authorities said that since 2001, Stack has prescribed millions of painkillers including OxyContin, Oxycodone, Xanax, methadone and hydrocodone.

Undercover officers were able to get painkillers “by just cold-calling him,” Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo said.

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