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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 8, 2020

Physician to Pay $50,000 and Permanently Cease Prescribing Opioids to Resolve Allegations of Improperly Prescribing Oxycodone

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Dr. Eric Heffelfinger, a pulmonologist who previously practiced in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, will pay $50,000 and permanently lose his ability to prescribe opioids to resolve allegations that he improperly prescribed oxycodone and split the pills with a patient for his own personal use.

The settlement resolves allegations that between February 2014 and August 2016, Heffelfinger, who had a registration with the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances, prescribed oxycodone to one patient on several occasions at least partially for the purpose of using some of the pills himself. The United States contends that such prescriptions were not written for a legitimate medical purpose and in the usual course of professional practice and were therefore illegal.

Heffelfinger has agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve the allegations. The settlement also permanently prevents Heffelfinger, as a physician, from ever purchasing, prescribing, distributing, or dispensing opioid controlled substances in the future and imposes a number of other accountability measures through an administrative agreement with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“An important component of our strategy to combat the opioid epidemic is always to hold healthcare providers accountable if they abuse their prescribing privileges,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “We will use every tool at our disposal, including civil penalties and permanent revocation of opioid prescribing, to hold providers accountable and prevent abuse.”

“Healthcare providers who have the privilege to prescribe controlled substances must understand that misusing that privilege will have serious consequences,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field Division. “We will continue to work together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to identify all healthcare providers who violate the law and hold them responsible.”

This investigation was conducted with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Philadelphia Field Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For the United States Attorney’s Office, Assistant United States Attorney Anthony D. Scicchitano handled the investigation and settlement.

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

Topic(s): 
Opioids
Contact: 
MICHAEL CAVACINI Media Contact 215-861-8300
Updated May 8, 2020