Civil Complaint Filed Against Islip Terrace Doctor For Issuing Prescriptions Without Legitimate Medical Need
Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James J. Hunt, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge (DEA New York), today announced the filing of a civil action by the United States against Lawrence Womack, age 48, an Islip Terrace, New York, based physician.
In the civil action, the United States alleges that between January 2011 and June 2013, the defendant wrote 241 prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, specifically for oxycodone, methadaone and fentanyl, in the absence of any legitimate medical need. The complaint alleges that in writing these prescriptions the defendant disregarded patients’ toxicology screens that indicated potentially lethal drug interactions. In addition, the complaint alleges that the defendant conducted periodic breast examinations in exchange for continued prescriptions and/or increased amounts of opioids, including oxycodone.
Oxycodone is a scheduled controlled substance that may be dispensed by medical professionals only for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of a doctor’s professional practice. It is a powerful and highly addictive drug and is increasingly abused because of its potency when crushed into a powder and ingested, leading to a heroin like euphoria.
“Medical professionals who hand out prescriptions for narcotics in the absence of any legitimate medical need place the lives of their patients at risk and contribute to the scourge of prescription drug abuse in our communities. Doctors who violate their oaths in this manner will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “I want to thank our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, for their outstanding investigative efforts in this case.”
“By no means was Dr. Womack upholding his oath to do no harm when he continued to prescribe oxycodone pills to patients after being alerted of their failed drug tests,” stated DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Hunt. “Ignoring the warning signs, Dr. Womack’s alleged actions supported the ultimate distribution of diverted oxycodone throughout Long Island communities enabling opioid addiction.”
In January 2012, this Office and the DEA’s Long Island Tactical Diversion Squad comprising agents and officers of the DEA, Nassau County Police Department, Rockville Centre Police Department and Port Washington Police Department, in conjunction with the five District Attorneys in this jurisdiction, the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, the New York City Police Department, and New York State Police, along with other key federal, state, and local government partners, launched the Prescription Drug Initiative to mount a comprehensive response to what the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention has called an epidemic increase in the abuse of so-called opioid analgesics. So far, the Prescription Drug Initiative has brought over 160 federal and local criminal prosecutions, including the prosecution of 15 health care professionals, taken civil enforcement actions against a hospital, a pharmacy, and a pharmacy chain, removed prescription authority from numerous rogue doctors, and expanded information-sharing among enforcement agencies to better target and pursue drug traffickers. The Initiative also is involved in an extensive community outreach program to address the abuse of pharmaceuticals.
The United States’ case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Diane C. Leonardo.