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Oklahoma doctor held for nine deaths linked to prescription drugs

(Reuters) - Texas police have arrested a former Oklahoma doctor on nine counts of homicide and 43 counts of illegal drug distribution for prescribing large doses of addictive medicines to patients he hardly knew in return for bribes, officials said on Monday.

William Valuck, 71, was arrested on Friday in Kilgore, Texas and authorities in neighboring states were exchanging information about the case.

Valuck is suspected of prescribing medicine over the past several years to numerous patients after sparse medical examination. The medicines included high quantities of extremely addictive controlled substances such as oxycodone and Alprazolam, according to an affidavit obtained on Monday.

"At least nine of his patients died from overdoses of the very same drugs he was prescribing in massive doses," the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics said in the affidavit filed in Oklahoma County.

Lawyers for Valuck were not immediately available for comment.

The doctor had been working out of an office in Oklahoma City and surrendered his license to practise medicine this month as authorities were closing in on him after a year-long investigation, Oklahoma authorities said.

According to Oklahoma court documents, Valuck was previously convicted in 2001 and sentenced to 70 months in prison on charges of money laundering and defrauding investors.

He was released in 2005 and had lived briefly in Texas before his arrest.

(Reporting by Heide Brandes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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