Temporary Restraining Orders Against Doctors Allegedly Prescribing Opioids Illegally
Temporary restraining orders—a first-of-its-kind against doctors allegedly prescribing opioids illegally under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)—were served this week that forbid Michael P. Tricaso, D.O., of Akron, and Gregory J. Gerber, M.D., of Sandusky, Ohio from writing prescriptions. The Justice Department filed two separate complaints to bar two Ohio doctors from prescribing medications and allege that an investigation revealed the doctors “recklessly and unnecessarily distributed painkillers and other drugs.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions even made the trip to Cleveland, Ohio to make the announcement. You can read the press release HERE for more information.
The motions for temporary restraining orders point to the Government’s authority under the Controlled Substance Act for the Attorney General to commence a civil action for appropriate declaratory or injunctive relief relating to any violation of 21 U.S.C. 843(f).
According to the filings, Dr. Tricaso was targeted by a confidential source working for the DEA at a gym. The confidential source purchased various prescription drugs from Dr. Tricaso, including steroids and Percocet. The transactions were recorded and Dr. Tricaso is alleged to have made some unfavorable comments including that he would only give the confidential source a prescription for 20 Percocet because that number is “under the radar.”
The allegations against Dr. Gerber are much more extensive, but defensible. Dr. Gerber was a solo practitioner operating a pain clinic. The Government claims that Dr. Gerber illegally issued hundreds of prescriptions that exceeded the amount for “legitimate medical purposes.” As part of its investigation, the Government sent an undercover agent to Dr. Gerber’s offices six times. The Government alleges that the agent was prescribed by Dr. Gerber a combination of controlled substances, including Oxycodone, with minimal medical examination and no complaints of pain. The Government also notes that Dr. Gerber was connected to the Insys case and received $175,000 in speaker fees for promoting Subsys.
The motion for temporary restraining order directed at Dr. Gerber attaches an expert medical opinion, patient affidavit, and an affidavit from an agent. The expert’s affidavit references a review of claims data and medical records. The expert opines that the prescriptions exceed normal levels.
Also curious is that the Government also attaches as evidence of Dr. Gerber’s illegitimate practices correspondence from Walmart advising that, after an internal review, it will no longer fill prescriptions written by Dr. Gerber.
It will be interesting to watch these cases and see how it develops.