E-News May 20, 2015

Dentists alerted to Court rule

The WV Supreme Court of Appeals ruled May 13 that drug addicts may sue providers for prescribing or dispensing controlled substances which contributed to their addiction and criminal activities caused by their addiction.

The Mingo Circuit Court requested the ruling by the State’s esteem judicial body after 29 admitted drug addicts filed eight separate suits in Mingo County against selected physicians, pharmacies and a medical center for allegedly causing their addiction and subsequent criminal activities. The Mingo Court sought clarification from the higher Court allowing the suit under the State’s “comparative fault” doctrine.

The plaintiffs alleged physicians acted “in concert” with pharmacies which were aware of the “pill mill” activities of the medical center. The plaintiffs contended pharmacies refilled the controlled substances too early, refilled them for excessive periods of time, filled contraindicated controlled substances, and filled “synergistic” drug products which would provide an enhancing effect to the controlled substances, according to Supreme Court documents obtained by WVDA.

The documents reveal the addicts admitted to such activities as illegal possession of controlled substances, criminal distribution, purchase and receipt of pain medications “off the street”, criminally acquiring and obtaining narcotics through misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge (not advising doctors of addiction or receipt of narcotics from other doctors), criminally obtaining narcotics from multiple doctors.

Although physicians and pharmacies are identified in the legal action, the Court’s ruling allowing addicts to sue applies to all prescribers (e.g., dentists) and dispensers.

Dentists are reminded to access the WV Controlled Substance Monitoring Program (CSMP), operated by the Board of Pharmacy, to determine if patients are obtaining prescriptions for controlled substances from other dentists or physicians. This data are readily available now that pharmacies report their dispensing of controlled substances daily to the Board of Pharmacy’s database. The data includes the name of the prescriber, name of patient, name of pharmacy dispensing the product, and name and quantity of the controlled substance dispensed the patient.

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