Over the past year, 31 New Jersey doctors have lost their license to practice medicine and dispense prescriptions after over-prescribing opioid narcotics. The discipline was carried out by the State Board of Medical Examiners after analysis of prescribing habits by each of the 31 doctors. Of the 31, there were 14 with final dispositions, including eight physicians with permanent license revocations, five with long term license suspensions, and one voluntary retirement. 17 others are suspended pending final disposition of the allegations against them.
The crackdown is part of the ongoing effort to curb prescription drug abuse in New Jersey. Until recently, doctors would prescribe narcotic painkillers for a wide variety of symptoms, many of which did not require narcotics, or did not require the amount that was prescribed. As a result, prescription narcotics are easy to find in medicine cabinets throughout the state.
The crackdown on problem prescribers was part of the state’s multi-pronged strategy to combat the ongoing heroin and opioid addiction crisis plaguing New Jersey and the nation. Obviously, this isn’t just an issue of prescription drugs. With heroin use and overdoses skyrocketing in recent years, and the majority of heroin users beginning with an addiction to prescription narcotics, this spiral would only continue unless there is something done to curb the supply.
“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,” Attorney General Christopher Porrino of the Division of Consumer Affairs said in a statement.
Included in the crackdown were six other professionals licensed to dispense narcotics, and state officials 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.
“As committed allies in New Jersey’s battle against opioid addiction, we will continue to take strong action against doctors and other practitioners who fuel the crisis by making pills available for abuse,” said Steve Lee, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We will not allow anyone, least of all members of the medical profession who have pledged to ‘do no harm,’ to work against us as we struggle to stem the deadly tide of addiction.”
For the complete list of those disciplined, visit the Patch.