Several patients of a Kennebunk doctor accused of overprescribing opioids are coming to her defense, saying she saved them from years of severe pain.

Dr. Merideth Norris sat across from three of her patients Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland, where she’s on trial for 16 counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances for her prescribing.

Each count represents a prescription that Norris wrote for five other patients in 2021 and 2022. Prosecutors have argued these were written without a legitimate purpose and outside of the usual course of medical practice, putting Norris’ patients at risk of overdose.

Prosecutors, who rested their case after a week of testimony, did not call any of the five patients at the center of Norris’ case to testify. Their names are being withheld due to the sensitive health information being shared.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen allowed the three patients to testify in Norris’ defense, despite objections from prosecutors.

None of them said they had any histories of opioid use disorder, unlike the five patients at the center of Norris’ case. But they all were prescribed similar kinds of opioids for chronic pain.


One patient who spoke has rheumatoid arthritis. Another survived a car crash in 2013 that broke several of his vertebrae and a collarbone. A third has dealt with chronic pain for most of her life after falling from a bridge when she was a child.

While other doctors wanted to taper or replace their opioids, Norris continued to prescribe them, although sometimes at lower doses. The patients said this made it feel like Norris was listening to them more than other doctors.

“She made me feel like I was the most important person in the conversation,” patient Bonnie Collins said. “I always felt her office feeling good.”


Prosecutors have argued Norris was an outlier among Maine doctors. Not only did she have one of the state’s highest opioid prescribing rates, they’ve said, but she also received several warnings from insurance providers and pharmacies that her prescriptions were potentially dangerous.

She prescribed opioids in combination with other drugs that increased her patients’ risk of overdose, prosecutors say, and she ignored signs that her patients were giving them away.


Dr. Timothy E. King, who reviewed patient records for the five people in Norris’ indictment at prosecutors’ request, told jurors last week that he believed Norris was writing these prescriptions for pains that opioids couldn’t even help.

But Collins and the other patients who spoke Monday said Norris did make a difference.

Dr. Merideth Norris of Kennebunk walks into federal court in Portland in February with her attorney Tim Zerillo. Norris is charged with 16 counts of illegally prescribing opioids. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Collins said another doctor first prescribed her Oxycontin for her arthritis in the 1990s. She started at 80 milligrams, now considered a high dose.

Norris continued prescribing opioids to Collins after the first doctor retired. Some of Collins’ family were concerned, she said, as more people realized how addictive opioids can be. But Collins said the pills made it possible for her to travel and help her husband in their garden.

Norris was barred from prescribing after her arrest in October 2022 and Collins said she hasn’t been able to find another prescriber. She had to quit “cold turkey.”

“I’m always in pain,” she said. “No matter what I do, I know I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and be in pain. … It’s exhausting for me, to get up and go and do things.”



Norris’ attorneys also called on Dr. Kathryn Brandt, who teaches at the University of New England and met Norris while they were in a residency program.

Brandt said she referred a patient, one of the five in the indictment, to Norris because the patient was about to lose health care coverage.

Norris was already treating dozens of patients with similar circumstances, Brandt said, and would be the least likely to turn her away. Brandt acknowledged that she has not reviewed Norris’ records or prescribing history for this patient.

King had testified a day earlier that those records showed Norris continued prescribing that patient methadone, even after receiving tips they they were giving the medication away and using other illicit substances.

Still, Brandt said she trusted Norris’ judgment.

“As you sit here today, do you have any regrets sending Patient 4 to Dr. Norris?” defense attorney Amy Fairfield asked.

“I do not,” Brandt said.

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