March 02, 2017
New Jersey disciplined 31 medical providers in 2016 for allegedly over-prescribing painkillers and other addictive narcotics, the state Division of Consumer Affairs announced this week.
The actions resulted in eight license revocations, five long-term suspensions and a voluntary retirement which settled allegations against 14 doctors. Four South Jersey providers were punished.
The crackdown on problem prescribers is part of the state’s strategy to combat the ongoing heroin and opioid addiction crisis.
Steve Lee, director of Consumer Affairs, said “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.”
Overwhelmingly, heroin addiction now begins with prescription painkillers, statistics show.
Dr. Vivienne Matalon, a family physician with offices in Cherry Hill and Camden, had her license temporarily suspended last year.
She was alleged to have indiscriminately prescribed the painkiller SUBSYS, an oral spray containing fentanyl, to three patients, one of whom died. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic similar to morphine, but is 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institutes of Health. The spray is used to treat breakthrough cancer pain.
The State Board of Medical Examiners, which carried out the disciplinary actions, found her use of the drug constituted fraud, deception and misrepresentation; professional misconduct; gross negligence endangering the life, health, safety and welfare of the three patients; and indiscriminate prescribing of controlled dangerous substances.
Matalon agreed to a consent order and is prohibited from practicing medicine or prescribing controlled dangerous substances pending a final resolution of the allegations against her and further actions by the board.
Dr. Thomas Newmark, a Cherry Hill psychiatrist, had his license permanently revoked after losing his job at a Camden County medical school.
Newmark had worked for Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, in Stratford, which investigated his prescribing history, fired him and reported him to the state.
Pharmacist Jane Dateshidze of Medford had her license temporarily suspended.
She was charged last year with insurance fraud, distribution of controlled dangerous substances and obtaining controlled dangerous substances by fraud.
Dateshidze reportedly obtained more than 18,000 narcotic pills and illegally distributed them in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Russia.
Dr. Steven Forman, a Clementon podiatrist, had his license suspended for five years and must pay $40,000. The charge stems from investigations going back several years which accused him of indiscriminately prescribing controlled dangerous substances.
In order to slow the opioid epidemic, New Jersey has limited the initial prescription of painkillers to five days, routinely investigates off-label prescribing of opioids and has increased the monitoring of prescription patterns.