New York Methodist Hospital Agrees To Implement Compliance Program, To Settle Civil Claims Under The Controlled Substances Act
Hospital’s Residents Issued Improper Prescriptions For Adderall, A Highly Addictive Stimulant
Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, today announced the filing and settlement of a civil action by the United States against New York Methodist Hospital (“NY Methodist”). Under a Consent Judgment, NY Methodist has agreed to implement measures designed to prevent the issuance of NY Methodist prescriptions in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and paid a civil penalty in the amount of $70,000.
In the civil action, the United States alleges that between May 2008 and July 2010, medical residents employed by NY Methodist issued a total of 194 prescriptions for Adderall without a legitimate medical purpose. The medical residents employed by NY Methodist issued the prescriptions on prescription forms bearing the name of NY Methodist. The residents, acting with other individuals, then filled the prescriptions at local pharmacies. The residents themselves consumed some of the Adderall obtained by filling the prescriptions. The remainder of the Adderall was sold, either on Craigslist or in hand to hand transactions. In 2012, in a related criminal prosecution in this district, a former NY Methodist medical resident was convicted for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute Adderall.
Adderall, a stimulant that contains amphetamine salts, is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, because it has a high potential for abuse and, when abused, may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Adderall abuse has become a growing problem, particularly among high school and college students. According to figures compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, emergency room visits involving Adderall and similar stimulants nearly tripled from 2005 to 2010. Abuse of Adderall can lead to heart attack, stroke, seizures, hallucinations and paranoia, among other things.
Under the Consent Judgment, NY Methodist will establish a computer database that will contain information concerning each prescription written on NY Methodist prescription paper. This database will make it easier to identify any NY Methodist prescriptions that are issued in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. NY Methodist will also implement a compliance program designed to ensure that NY Methodist complies with the requirements of the Controlled Substances Act regarding the issuance of prescriptions and the prevention of theft and loss of controlled substances and blank prescription forms. In settling the action, NY Methodist did not admit wrongdoing.
“This settlement serves as a wake-up call to hospitals, especially hospitals that employ medical residents,” said United States Attorney Lynch. “Federal law requires that hospitals ensure that their residents and other medical personnel follow all requirements of the Controlled Substances Act, including the requirement that a prescription for a controlled substance such as Adderall be issued only for a legitimate medical purpose. New York Methodist Hospital failed to live up to its obligations and is being held accountable for its conduct. This settlement also serves as a reminder to the community as a whole of the destructive effects of the abuse of Adderall and of the need to make sure that Adderall is used only when there is a legitimate medical need for it, and only under the supervision of a physician.” United States Attorney Lynch thanked the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York City Tactical Diversion Squad for its assistance. The Tactical Diversion Squad comprises agents and officers from the Drug Enforcement Administration, The New York City Police Department, Town of Orangetown Police Department and Westchester County Police Department.
In January 2012, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Drug Enforcement Administration, 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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called an epidemic increase in the abuse of so-called opioid analgesics. To date, the Prescription Drug Initiative has brought over 120 federal and local criminal prosecutions, taken civil enforcement actions against 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 was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Elliot M. Schachner.