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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Madison Physician Agrees to Pay $110,000 to Resolve Allegations of Controlled Substance Prescribing Violations

MADISON, WIS. – Acting United States Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea announced that David E. Eckerle, M.D., a Madison, Wisconsin physician, entered into a settlement agreement to pay $110,000 to resolve civil allegations that he violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) related to the manner in which he was prescribing opioids and other controlled substances.  

According to the settlement agreement, the government alleged that between May 2016 and January 2020, Dr. Eckerle wrote prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances that had no legitimate medical purpose and were not issued in the usual course of professional practice. 

In enacting the CSA, Congress recognized the importance of preventing the diversion of drugs from legitimate to illegitimate uses. The CSA, in relevant part, deters the illegal distribution, possession, dispensing, and improper use of controlled substances, all of which have contributed significantly to the opioid epidemic over the past two decades. The CSA therefore regulates entities and practitioners that dispense controlled substances by establishing controls over all stages of the chain of distribution of controlled substances in the United States. 

“The opioid epidemic has caused great harm and deep sadness to individuals, families, and communities here in Wisconsin. In cases unrelated to this matter, this office has seen opiate addictions that begin with a doctor over-prescribing opiate pain pills and that end with the former patient overdosing on heroin or going to prison for drug-related crimes. Wisconsin physicians who increase risks of opiate addiction by irresponsibly prescribing opioids will be held accountable,” said Acting United States Attorney O’Shea. “This office will investigate inappropriate opioid prescribing and use all available tools to combat the opioid epidemic and protect our local communities.” 

“The harm caused by improperly prescribed narcotics is a serious threat to the health of our citizens,” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Wisconsin Assistant Special Agent in Charge John McGarry said. “This investigation is indicative of DEA’s commitment to improve public safety by ensuring physicians issue prescriptions for legitimate medical purposes within the boundaries of federal law.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Theresa Anzivino represented the government in this matter, and the DEA Madison District Office conducted the investigation. The settlement agreement states CSA allegations only; Dr. Eckerle denies the allegations and there has been no determination of liability. 

Wisconsin residents with unused prescriptions—especially opiates—in their homes can use this link to learn where drugs can be safely disposed.  https://doseofrealitywi.gov/drug-takeback/find-a-take-back-location/ .   

Topic(s): 
Prescription Drugs
Updated March 9, 2021