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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Syracuse Area Physician to Pay Civil Penalty for Violating the Controlled Substances Act

Onondaga County Anaesthesiologist Resolves Civil Liability for $30,000

ALBANY, NEW YORK – United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian announced that his office reached a $30,000 civil settlement with Dr. Anthony A. Ascioti, a Fayetteville, New York anesthesiologist.  The settlement was in connection with violations of the Controlled Substances Act.  Dr. Ascioti’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) number, which enabled him to prescribe controlled substances, has expired and he has not sought to renew it.

In 2015, the New York State Police (NYSP) and the New York State Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement (BNE) received information that an individual was receiving significant amounts of Adderall[1] using prescriptions signed by Dr. Ascioti on prescription pads from the Anesthesiology Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  A subsequent investigation revealed that the individual to whom the prescriptions were given was not a patient of St. Joseph’s Hospital and that Dr. Ascioti was not working at that hospital at the time.  Dr. Ascioti had also previously worked in the Anesthesiology Department at Auburn Memorial Hospital, but he had not worked there for six years.  The individual receiving the prescriptions was also not a patient at Auburn Memorial Hospital.  Moreover, the Adderall prescriptions were not related to anesthesiology services.

The investigation revealed that from January 20, 2012 to October 24, 2014, Dr. Ascioti issued 38 controlled substance prescriptions for the individual which were outside the scope of his usual course of professional practice.  In addition, Dr. Ascioti failed to maintain records or a patient file for the individual in connection with these prescriptions.

Pursuant to federal regulations, a prescription for a controlled substance to be effective must be issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of his or her professional practice.  When Dr. Ascioti issued these prescriptions he did not meet these requirements since he did not prescribe this individual Adderall in connection with his practice as an anesthesiologist at either St. Joseph’s Hospital or Auburn Memorial Hospital.

The Controlled Substances Act was enacted to ensure that controlled substances are properly regulated and to help prevent drug diversion.  Prescription drug abuse is a significant nationwide issue.  According to U.S. Attorney Hartunian, his office will aggressively pursue those who engage in drug diversion, especially if they are healthcare providers.  “It simply is unacceptable for medical professionals to act irresponsibly when handling controlled substances. The potential for these substances to end up in the wrong hands is something we are not willing to risk, and we will use whatever tools are available to prevent this from happening.”

The case was investigated by the NYSP, BNE and the DEA’s Diversion Unit in Syracuse, New York.  The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Spina Jr.

 


[1] Adderall is commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.  It is also used to enhance cognitive functions, promote athletic performance, to produce feelings of euphoria and as an aphrodisiac.

Topic(s): 
Consumer Protection
Updated June 22, 2016