The fact that there is an opioid crisis in the United States is practically common knowledge. With such drugs as fentanyl, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone being so highly addictive, these pain killers are now known to be the chief causes of overdoses all over the country. In the past several weeks, many of our blog entries have covered stories about medical professionals exacerbating our nation’s opioid epidemic. It’s a major concern that deserves our attention.
“Too many people are leaving hospital with bottles of opioid tablets they don’t need,” report researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland on BMJ.com, “Doctors are routinely overprescribing—giving every patient a bottle of 30-60 highly addictive opioid tablets. Most commonly this is oxycodone written with instructions to take 5-10 mg as needed every 4-6 hours for pain.”
San Diego doctor pays to resolve allegations of illegal prescriptions.
This week’s blog highlights the stories of two physicians who have been brought to justice for their roles in the crisis. Among them is San Diego, California-based Dr. Roger A. Kasendorf. As reported by the Southern District of California branch of the United States Department of Justice yesterday, the osteopathic physician has agreed to pay $125,000 to resolve allegations that he illegally prescribed opioids to his patients.
According to the DoJ report, “Dr. Kasendorf wrote prescriptions for opioids, including fentanyl, that were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose and while not acting in the usual course of his professional practice in violation the Controlled Substances Act and the False Claims Act.” However, the report goes on to note that “the claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.”
Cincinnati doctor pleads guilty to overprescribing opioids.
Kasendorf may not have explicitly pleaded guilty to overprescribing opioids, but the owner of a Cincinnati, Ohio-based medical practice did this past Tuesday. In a separate DoJ report, it was revealed that 59 year-old, Dr. Raymond Noschang pleaded guilty to eight counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone. He has not yet been sentenced.
“As part of his guilty plea, Noschang admitted that he prescribed controlled substances to patients in amounts and for lengths of time that were outside the scope of legitimate medical practice,” the report details, “Noschang also admitted that he routinely prescribed controlled substances to patients even though various ‘red flags’ suggested that he should stop writing those prescriptions, change the prescriptions and/or counsel patients accordingly.”
In addition, Noschang admitted that he prescribed dangerous combinations of drugs, knowing that they increased the risk of overdose and death. His guilty plea also included an admission that the amount of drugs attributable to his conduct is between 400 and 700 kilograms of converted drug weight.
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