Recently, the state of New Jersey ramped up its enforcement efforts by sanctioning 31 physicians for allegedly over-prescribing painkillers. This is a trend that seems to put a dent in the proliferation of addiction to painkillers, and the epidemic of painkiller narcotic over-prescription.
According to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, “Under the push to rein in problem prescribers, an unprecedented number of doctors saw their practicing authority revoked, suspended or otherwise restricted for allegedly putting the public at risk by indiscriminately prescribing controlled dangerous substances (CDS) that can pave the way to addiction”. The state crackdown resulted from a coordinated multi-pronged effort to investigate and prosecute the ongoing heroin and opioid addiction crisis.
“When four out of five new heroin users are getting their start by abusing prescription drugs, you have to attack the problem at ground zero – in irresponsibly run doctors’ offices,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Physicians who grant easy access to the drugs that are turning New Jersey residents into addicts can be every bit as dangerous as street-corner dealers. Purging the medical community of over-prescribers is as important to our cause as busting heroin rings and locking up drug kingpins.”
In 2016, the following actions were taken to combat over-prescribing opioids:
- Actions filed with the board resulted in eight license revocations, five long-term suspensions, and one voluntary retirement that settled allegations against 14 doctors.
- Doctors were not the only professionals sanctioned for alleged CDS violations last year. Six other licensed professionals – a physician’s assistant, a chiropractor, a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician, social worker, and a hearing aid dispenser – were also disciplined for alleged improper prescription, distribution, or diversion of narcotics.
- The division terminated a printing company’s authority to print prescription blanks for physicians after finding the company failed to follow security requirements and issued 25,000 blanks to unauthorized individuals.
State Attorney General’s Office and Board of Medical Examiners Come Together
This is an example of how the state Attorney General’s Office and the state Board of Medical Examiners are working together, along with the Divison of Consumer Affairs to tackle the problem of addiction and over-prescription. The public holds a physician to the highest ethical standards. Further, their oath requires the judicious use of medicine and the wisdom to prescribe cautiously. When those are breached, it is up to law enforcement and the state Board of Medical Examiners or other appropriate licensing boards to investigate and enforce the law against abusers.
Written by Michael Rosen, ESQ
Michael brings over 20 years of experience founding and leading risk mitigation businesses, receiving numerous accolades such as Inc Magazine’s Inc. 500 Award and Nashville Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.