- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Newton Physician Resolves Claims of Illegally Prescribing Addictive Drugs Without Reviewing Patient Prescription History
Thomas Dalton, Deputy Press Secretary
BOSTON — A Newton physician has agreed to pay $100,000 and enter into an independent compliance monitoring program to resolve allegations that he prescribed controlled substances without first reviewing patient prescription histories to prevent drug diversion and misuse, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The joint state and federal settlement resolves allegations that, on 51 occasions, Dr. Hooshang Poor failed to check the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (MassPAT) before prescribing narcotics to patients, including those with a history of documented substance use, at Stonehedge Rehabilitation & Skilled Care Center in West Roxbury. The AG’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office contend that Dr. Poor’s negligent failure to check MassPAT violated both the state’s consumer protection law and the federal Controlled Substances Act.
“Physicians are responsible for the health and wellbeing of their patients, but this doctor irresponsibly prescribed dangerous drugs to Massachusetts residents without abiding by critical requirements,” said AG Healey. “Protecting against these illegal practices is a priority for my team, and we’ll continue to work with our federal partners to hold bad actors accountable.”
Today’s settlement was reached pursuant to a requirement, enacted by the Massachusetts legislature in 2016, that all prescribers review the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) through MassPAT before prescribing narcotics such as oxycodone, benzodiazepines, and other addictive and potentially harmful controlled substances.
“Proper prescribing practices prevent overdoses and deaths,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Simply put, the PMP saves lives and physicians who fail to comply with their statutory mandate to check the patient’s prescription history are putting their patients at risk. We will continue to work with our partners at the DEA to protect patients and enforce the Controlled Substances Act.”
“The DEA is committed to ensuring that all registrants are in compliance with the required regulations, which are enforceable through the Controlled Substances Act,” said Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New England Field Division. “Failure to do so increases the potential for diversion and jeopardizes public health and public safety. DEA pledges to work with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure these rules and regulations are followed.”
Under state law, the Department of Public Health (DPH) maintains MassPAT to record the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances to detect and identify the misuse, abuse, or diversion of prescription drugs. Prescribers, like Dr. Poor, are required to review a patient’s prescription history prior to issuing a prescription to see if patients are receiving controlled substances from any other providers. Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, physicians and other prescribers registered with the DEA may only issue prescriptions for a legitimate medical purpose and in the usual course of professional practice. And under the state’s consumer protection law, practices that fail to comply with statutory protections for the public’s health, safety, and welfare are considered unfair or deceptive.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Dr. Poor will pay a total of $100,000, with $50,000 going to the federal government and the remaining $50,000 to be placed in the state’s Opioid Recovery and Remediation Trust Fund, a fund established by the state legislature in 2020 to mitigate the impacts of the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. Dr. Poor will also be required to pay for an independent compliance monitor who will update his policies and review his practices and documentation each month to confirm that Dr. Poor is complying with the MassPAT requirement.
Dr. Poor previously resolved federal and state allegations in February 2019 that he routinely overbilled MassHealth and Medicare for non-emergency visits to nursing homes.
This settlement is the latest action by the AG’s office to address improper controlled substances prescribing practices. Last month, the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division announced criminal indictments against a Lawrence physician for illegally prescribing controlled substances including amphetamines, benzodiazepines, and morphine sulfate. That investigation was also conducted with the assistance of federal partners in the DEA.
This matter is being handled by Deputy Division Chief Kevin Lownds, Senior Trial Counsel Elisha Willis, and Investigations Supervisor Christopher Cecchini, all of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of Massachusetts, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Department of Public Health provided critical support to this investigation.
The AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division receives 75 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under a grant award. The remaining 25 percent is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.