A federal court in Maryland permanently enjoined a Baltimore-based physician assistant from prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, the Department of Justice announced today.
Pursuant to an agreed consent judgment filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman enjoined Elizabeth J. Allen from dispensing, prescribing or administering any controlled substances. The consent decree resolves a civil complaint filed by the government alleging that Allen, while working at a Maryland pain clinic, repeatedly prescribed opioids in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. The government alleged that from 2014 to 2019, Allen issued hundreds of prescriptions that had no legitimate medical purpose and fell outside the usual course of professional medical practice. The injunction requires that Allen never again apply for or seek the reinstatement of her DEA registration, which is required for a medical professional to prescribe controlled substances.
“Anyone who prescribes opioids and other controlled substances must comply with professional standards and the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to ensure that medical providers abide by the Controlled Substances Act.”
“Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are subject to the Controlled Substances Act and cannot overprescribe opioids and hide behind their affiliations with physicians in an attempt to shield themselves from criminal and civil liability,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland. “The court’s approval of this consent decree should remind all medical practitioners that the U.S. Attorney’s Office intends to use all the tools at its disposal—both criminal and civil—to combat the opioid epidemic which continues to plague our State. We will hold responsible all medical professionals who contribute to Maryland’s opioid epidemic by overprescribing opioids, regardless of their title or the letters that follow their name.”
“The DEA continues to hold prescribers and all medical professionals accountable when they violate the law,” said Special Agent in Charge Jarod A. Forget of the DEA Washington Division. “Overprescribing controlled substance pharmaceuticals remains a key threat and can lead to overdoses. We will continue to investigate these prescribers in order to save lives.”
The government’s complaint alleged that Allen repeatedly prescribed dangerous and potentially lethal combinations of opioids and benzodiazepines. The complaint also alleged that Allen continued to prescribe patients opioids even after some tested positive for illicit or unprescribed substances in urine toxicology screens. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally recommends that primary care clinicians avoid daily dosages of opioids over 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME), the government alleged that Allen wrote prescriptions that could cause some patients to exceed 700 MME daily. The government alleged that prescriptions written by Allen were a contributing factor in the death of at least one Marylander. Allen denied the government’s allegations.
The investigation was conducted by the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, Washington Division, Baltimore District Office.
The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan C. Lazerow and Trial Attorneys Donald Lorenzen and Thomas Rosso of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch.