NJ Attorney General Christopher Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs has announced thirty New Jersey pain doctors and physicians have lost their jobs over the past year for over-prescribing painkillers and other narcotics that can lead to addiction.
Pain physicians in New Jersey to blame in part for state’s heroin crisis
State officials said an unprecedented number of doctors saw their practicing authority revoked, suspended or otherwise restricted for allegedly putting the public at risk in 2016. The crackdown on doctors over prescribing painkillers was part of the state’s multi-pronged strategy to combat the ongoing heroin and opioid addiction crisis plaguing New Jersey and the nation as a whole.
“When four out of five new heroin users are getting their start by abusing prescription drugs, you have to attack the problem at ground zero – in irresponsibly run doctors’ offices.”
New Jersey Attorney General
The discipline measures sought by Porrino were carried out by the State Board of Medical Examiners within the Division of Consumer Affairs.
New Jersey Pain Doctors with Suspended or Revoked Licenses
The 2016 actions filed with the board resulted in eight license revocations, five long-term suspensions and one voluntary retirement that settled allegations against 14 doctors, including:
- Mohamed Kawam Jabakji, known as “Dr. Kawam,” who practiced in Prospect Park.
The Board of Medical Examiners revoked Kawam’s license in April after finding he prescribed painkillers, including oxycodone, percocet and codeine, to at least six patients without proper medical justification.
Kawam demonstrated gross negligence in failing to routinely screen his patients, even when they exhibited clear drug-seeking and doctor-shopping diversionary behavior, according to the state’s allegations.
- Kenneth Lewandowski, who owned a pain management center in Red Bank.
The Board of Medical Examiners revoked Lewandowski’s license in April after he was criminally convicted in a prescription drug distribution ring while suspended from practicing medicine.
The board suspended Lewandowski’s license in April 2014 after learning he had been arrested three times and charged with driving while intoxicated, over the course of less than two months.
Five months later, Lewandowski was arrested as part of a joint investigation into a suspected prescription drug ring. He subsequently pleaded guilty to distributing or dispensing oxycodone.
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New Jersey Pain Doctors with Temporary License Suspensions
Temporary license suspensions and other cessations of practice and/or prescribing privileges were obtained for another 17 doctors, pending the outcome of allegations against them, including:
- James Cowan Jr., a psychiatrist who practiced from a home office in Ridgewood.
The Board of Medical Examiners temporarily suspended Cowan’s license to practice medicine amid allegations he indiscriminately prescribed CDS to patients, failed to keep proper patient records, and aided and abetted the unlicensed practice of medicine by allowing his wife to use his pre-signed prescription blanks to dispense drugs like Adderall and Xanax to his patients.
While confined to a hospital, and then a nursing home, the 72-year old Cowan allegedly pre-signed prescription blanks for his wife to dispense highly addicting drugs to his patients, many of whom exhibited signs of drug-seeking behavior.
Cowan is barred from practicing medicine and also from writing prescriptions for CDS until the board takes further action. Cowan is also required to surrender all prescription pads, and any CDS in his possession, except for those lawfully prescribed for his own use.
- Vivienne Matalon, a family physician who maintains offices in Cherry Hill and Camden.
The Board of Medical Examiners temporarily suspended Matalon’s license amid allegations she indiscriminately prescribed the oral spray painkiller Subsys to three patients, one of whom died.
According to the state’s allegations, Matalon jeopardized her patients’ welfare by ignoring the documented risks associated with Subsys and by flouting the rules for its use, which is restricted to treat breakthrough pain in certain cancer patients.
Matalon is prohibited from practicing medicine or prescribing CDS pending a final resolution of the allegations against her, and pending further action by the board.
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Complete list of New Jersey pain doctors and their sanctions
- George Beecher of Warren: Temporary suspension pending disposition of criminal charges.
- Andrew Stoveken of Edison: Temporary suspension pending disposition of criminal charges.
- Anthony Greenberg of Newton: Temporary suspension.
- James Morales of Toms River: Temporary suspension pending disposition of criminal charges.
- Amgad Hessein of South Orange: Revoked medical license, imposed $130,000 penalty and costs in the amount of $308,749.53.
- Frank Campione of Brick: Temporary suspension of license and CDS registration.
- Mohamed Kawam Jabakji of Prospect Park: Revocation of medical license, 3 year bar on reapplication. Permanent CDS Registration revocation. Penalty – $110,000; Costs – $57,702.32.
- Kenneth Lewandowski of Red Bank: Imposed permanent revocation of license and CDS registration.
- Vasili Moschowitz of Barnegat: Temporary suspension, then permanent revocation of medical license and penalty of $100,000 (stayed) filed on Dec. 23, 2016.
- Jason D’Amico of Totowa: Surrender license pending resolution of criminal charges.
- Jay Rosen: Retirement of license and CDS registration to be deemed a revocation.
- Ronald Scott: Permanent revocation
- James Cowan of Ridgewood: Temporary suspension of medical license and CDS Registration.
- William Wolfe of Voorhees: Temporary suspension of medical license and CDS Registration.
- Byung Kang of Little Falls: Temporary suspension of Medical License and CDS Registration pending outcome of criminal matter.
- Michael Rutigliano of Paramus: Temporary suspension.
- John McGee of Bayonne: Suspension of medical license for 5 years, with 364 days as an active suspension; Permanent cessation of prescribing of HGH and CDS; costs in the amount of $25,000; penalty in the amount of $50,000.
- Herbert Rudolph of Manahawkin: Suspension of 5 years, 2 years active; $35,000 in penalties; $20,000 in costs.
- Jane Dateshidze of Medford: Temporary Suspension of Pharmacy License.
- Darius Jasinski of : Imposed a 3-year suspension, 18 months active, and $50,000 in costs.
- Steven Forman of Clementon: Imposed a 5 year suspension, 2 years active; $30,000 penalty; $10,000 costs.
- Vivienne Matalon of Cherry Hill and Camden: Temporary suspension of medical license and CDS registration.
- Alexis Corazon of Paterson: Voluntary cessation of practice and prescribing all medications. Respondent will undergo full evaluation and assessment prior to resuming practice.
- Thomas Newmark of Cherry Hill: Permanent revocation.
- David Lee: Permanent retirement.
- Chowdhury Azam of Edison: 5-year suspension, permanent ban of some CDS prescribing; costs – pending.
- James Ludden of Red Bank: Temporary suspension for both medical license and CDS registration.
- Ronald Intellisano of Gloucester Township: Imposed 5 year suspension; Costs – $15,000.
- Manoj Pathakar of Edison: Permanent revocation of both medical license and NJ CDS registration. .
- Kenneth Sun of Phillipsburg: Temporary suspension of medical license.
Discipline for New Jersey pain doctor staff & associates
Doctors were not the only professionals sanctioned for alleged CDS violations last year. Six other licensed professionals – a physician’s assistant, a chiropractor, a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician, social worker and a hearing aid dispenser – were also disciplined for alleged improper prescription, distribution, or diversion of narcotics, according to authorities.
In addition, the state officials terminated a printing company’s authority to print prescription blanks for physicians after finding the company failed to follow security requirements and issued 25,000 blanks to unauthorized individuals.
Increased civil enforcement actions are part of New Jersey’s ongoing efforts to fight the diversion and abuse of opioids that have paved the way to an addiction crisis driving up overdose deaths and ravaging communities across the state.
“As committed allies in New Jersey’s battle against opioid addiction, we will continue to take strong action against doctors and other practitioners who fuel the crisis by making pills available for abuse,” said Steve Lee, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.
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“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.”
Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs