Fox News host Bill O'Reilly downplayed conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh's possibly illegal efforts to obtain prescription drugs, saying Limbaugh faced a "low-level beef." But O'Reilly's nonchalance over possible charges that Limbaugh "doctor-shopped" to obtain prescription drugs, including OxyContin, conflicts with his assessment of that drug two years ago, when he described OxyContin as a "heroin substitute."
And the law doesn't regard Limbaugh's alleged offenses as a "low-level beef." In fact, Florida prosecutors are pursuing Limbaugh's medical records as part of an investigation into whether he engaged in "doctor-shopping," a third-degree felony in Florida.
In a discussion of the legal case surrounding Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers, including OxyContin, O'Reilly asked why Florida prosecutors "want to seize his medical records on a, you know, on a beef that's a prescription drug beef, which is a low-level beef, you know?" Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano responded that the practice was known as "doctor-shopping," but he failed to note the potential penalties for such an offense in Florida. Doctor-shopping is the practice of secretly obtaining prescriptions from multiple doctors in order to obtain excessive amounts of drugs. It is a third-degree felony under Florida Statutes 893.13(7)(a)(8) and 893.13(7)(c). The practice is punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.
During an October 10, 2003, O'Reilly Factor interview with Barry Meier, a reporter for The New York Times, O'Reilly called OxyContin a "heroin substitute" while discussing Limbaugh's admission that he was addicted to painkillers:
O'REILLY: We had a 9-year old kid who didn't lie. Said I'm four foot and 70 pounds, put in a credit card, and they sent him, I think, OxyContin or something.
O'REILLY: Heroin substitute. So I see this as an enormous problem.
From the May 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: Now, why would the state want to do that? I mean, why would they want to seize his medical records on a, you know, on a beef that's a prescription drug beef, which is a low-level beef, you know?
NAPOLITANO: It's so-called doctor-shopping. I think they're after him because of who he is.