George C. Nichopoulos

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George Constantine Nichopoulos (born October 29, 1927), also known as "Dr. Nick", is a former American doctor of Greek descent. He is best known as Elvis Presley's personal physician and is controversial due to the singer's longstanding and ultimately fatal abuse of prescription drugs.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nichopoulos moved to Anniston, Alabama, during his infancy where his father, a Greek immigrant, opened a restaurant called "Gus' Sanitary Cafe."

Nichopoulos earned his MD at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1959, after studying at the University of the South, Birmingham-Southern College, and the University of Alabama.

Career[edit]

He began treating Presley in 1967 for saddle pain, and took it on as a full-time job in 1970 until Presley's death in 1977. His son Dean Nichopoulos served sometimes as an assistant for Presley, taking care of his wardrobe. Nichopoulos was present the day Elvis died, and attempted in vain to help save his life. Nichopoulos was also present at the autopsy and served as a pallbearer at the funeral.

In 1979, the doctor was shot in the chest while watching a football game; he was not seriously injured. No suspect was ever arrested. Nichopolous, in a 1993 interview with Dutch radio host Jorrit van der Kooi, claimed it must have been an angry Elvis fan.

In 1985, he started a solo practice called We Care, Inc.

After he was stripped of his credentials in 1995, Nichopoulos worked for a short time as Jerry Lee Lewis' road manager. He later took a job evaluating medical insurance claims by FedEx employees. No longer a doctor and in need of money, Nichopoulos has sold many of the items he received from Elvis at auctions, and at one point had a travelling exhibit, showing off his doctor's bag with some of the medications he prescribed for Elvis.

Legal battles[edit]

In 1980, he was indicted on 14 counts of overprescribing drugs to Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and twelve other patients. The district attorney ruled out murder charges because of the conflicting medical opinions about the cause of Presley's death. In 1977 alone, Nichopoulos had prescribed over 10,000 doses[1] of amphetamines, barbiturates, narcotics, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, laxatives, and hormones for Presley. Dr. Nichopoulos claimed he had tried in vain to reduce Elvis' dependency, even going so far as to manufacture one thousand placebos for Elvis,[1] but to no avail. The jury concluded that he had tried to act in the best interests of his patients. He was acquitted on all counts.

Also in 1980, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners found him guilty of overprescription, but decided that he was not unethical. They imposed three months' suspension of his licence and three years' probation.

In 1995, Nichopoulos had his license permanently revoked by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, and was branded a "Doctor Feelgood" in the press, after it was revealed that he had been overprescribing to numerous patients for years.[2][3][4][5] Nichopoulos claimed it was for patients that suffered from inoperable chronic pain, but he was unsuccessful in his defense. During his many appeals, Dr Nick admitted to the board that he had overprescribed. "I cared too much", he told them. During his court cases many friends supported him, raising money and holding benefits to pay for court costs.[1]

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