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Doctor Acquitted of Charges Over Giving Cancer Patient Painkillers

A Russian doctor at the center of a high-profile criminal case over prescribing painkillers to a friend who was terminally ill with cancer has been acquitted by a judge in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region.

Alevtina Khorinyak, 71, prescribed a medication called Tramadol to a friend who was suffering from cancer in 2009, local news website Krasnews.com reported Tuesday.

The man's regular doctor was unable to offer him a renewed prescription for Tramadol, which he'd already been taking, because free supplies of the drug had run out in local pharmacies and writing a prescription that obliges the patient to pay for the medication is illegal under Russian law, Lenta.ru reported.

Khorinyak wrote out and signed a paid prescription for the drug, and another of the man's acquaintances went to a pharmacy and bought the painkillers for him. The prescription was discovered two years later during an audit of local pharmacies by the Federal Drug Control Service. Khorinyak was charged and convicted in May 2013 of the illegal supply of a highly potent substance and of counterfeiting documents, and ordered to pay a 15,000 ruble ($370) fine, Krasnews.com reported.

That ruling was later overturned, and in a retrial, Krasnoyarsk's Oktyabrsky District Court on Tuesday acquitted the doctor and a co-defendant — the woman who had bought the painkillers — of all charges.

The high-profile case made waves for what many saw as unfair prosecution, with colleagues of the doctor coming to her defense and accusing the Federal Drug Control Service of making an example out of her.

Earlier, Khorinyak said that regardless of the court's final decision, she would be quitting the medical profession, Russian media reported.

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