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New York Physician Convicted for Opioid Overdose Deaths

On May 23, 2018, a federal jury convicted a New York doctor of causing the overdose deaths of two patients by illegally prescribing oxycodone. The doctor may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $10 million fine.

In an operation aimed at identifying providers who engage in negligent prescribing, an undercover detective acquired six oxycodone prescriptions from the doctor without a legitimate medical purpose during an approximately 6-month period. The doctor was found to have routinely issued prescriptions for much-higher than usual doses of oxycodone (30mg) than the most common dose (5mg), and surveillance videos revealed that he falsified medical records to justify the prescriptions, for which he was alleged to have accepted cash. A U.S. Attorney involved with the case described the doctor as “a drug dealer with a prescription pad.” The doctor’s attorney indicated his intention to appeal the conviction.

This case is a reminder that as enforcement efforts continue across the supply chain continuum, prescribers are being actively monitored and prosecuted for their (perceived or actual) role in the opioid crisis. Of note, it is not only high-profile cases involving opioid-related deaths that invite scrutiny; any licensee whose prescription practices depart from the standard of care and applicable regulations may be investigated and disciplined. 

Prescribers can protect themselves by adopting and implementing a robust opioid compliance plan. Contact Frier Levitt to speak to an attorney.