The Delaware Secretary of State’s Office has suspended the Controlled Substance Registrations of two medical doctors and a nurse practitioner because of allegations that they overprescribed a number of controlled substances in unreasonable and excessive amounts. Complaints filed against the the three, who all worked in the pain management field, further allege that they disregarded evidence that some of the prescribed medications were being abused or even diverted. The suspension immediately halted their legal authority to write prescriptions. One physician and the nurse practitioner reportedly also surrendered their Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registrations to federal authorities. The doctors may face further disciplinary action beyond the Secretary of State’s investigation.
One of the physicians, Dr. Mohammed Niaz, worked with the nurse practitioner, Jean Binkley, as her supervisor. The Secretary of State alleges that Dr. Niaz wrote prescriptions for over 57,000 tablets of various controlled substances during the first seven months of 2011. This amount included 42,000 tablets of the Schedule II narcotic Oxycodone. Binkley is alleged to have separately written prescriptions for over 89,000 Oxycodone tablets.
The state further alleges that one patient, using prescriptions obtained from Niaz and Binkley, obtained 360 Oxycodone tablets and 90 tablets of Alprazolam within a two-week period earlier this year. This is considered an unreasonable amount for one person for such a brief period of time. Alprazolam is the generic name for the drug Xanax, a Schedule IV controlled substance used to treat anxiety, but also highly prone to abuse. Both types of drug can be highly addictive and dangerous if abused, and their distribution is strictly controlled. The state alleges that many of the drugs obtained through prescriptions written by Niaz and Binkley ended up in the hands of people who did not have a prescription and did not have guidance on how to use the drugs safely.
Dr. Patrick Titus allegedly wrote an even greater number of irregular prescriptions. One pharmacy’s records reportedly showed 3,941 prescriptions written by Dr. Titus between January and November 2011, accounting for almost 750,000 pills of seventeen Schedule II narcotic pain medications such as Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and Morphine.
The Secretary of State launched an investigation with the assistance of the Delaware Attorney General’s office and the Division of Professional Regulation. Delaware law empowers the Secretary of State to revoke a medical professional’s license to prescribe medicine if “continued registration would be inconsistent with the public interest.” The Secretary of State’s reasoning in this case seems to be that these three medical professionals have established a sufficiently questionable prescription history, and that they would constitute a threat to the public interest if allowed to continue writing prescriptions.
The DEA’s Office of Diversion Control registers medical professionals who are already licensed or registered in the state where they practice to prescribe controlled substances. The purpose of this program of the DEA is to monitor and track the movement of controlled, but not outright banned, substances and to deter unlawful diversion of prescription medications by both medical professionals and patients.
The Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at assessing liability and damages for injuries caused by medication errors and helping their clients obtain compensation. For a free consultation to review your case, contact a lawyer online or at (800) 654-1949.
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Hospital Patient Mistakenly Given Drug Used in Executions, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, December 7, 2011
Report Warns Consumers to Take Precautions With Drug Labels and Instructions, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, July 25, 2011
Lack of Medication Adherence Can Cause Serious Medication Reactions and Injury, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2011