Federal Consent Decree Permanently Bans Baltimore-Based Physician Assistant from Prescribing Opioids and Controlled Substances

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Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Deborah L. Boardman has approved a consent decree that permanently enjoins Elizabeth J. Allen, a Baltimore-based physician assistant, from prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, resolving the United States’ civil allegations that Allen violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in illegally prescribing opioids. Under the consent decree, Allen agrees to never apply for or seek the reinstatement of her DEA registration—which is required for a medical professional to prescribe controlled substances, and which lapsed in 2020. 

The approval of the consent decree was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division; and Special Agent in Charge Jarod A. Forget of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Washington Field Division.

“Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are subject to the Controlled Substances Act and cannot overprescribe opioids and hide behind their affiliations with physicians in an attempt to shield themselves from criminal and civil liability,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron.  “The Court’s approval of this consent decree should remind all medical practitioners that the U.S. Attorney’s Office intends to use all the tools at its disposal—both criminal and civil—to combat the opioid epidemic which continues to plague our State.  We will hold responsible all medical professionals who contribute to Maryland’s opioid epidemic by overprescribing opioids, regardless of their title or the letters that follow their name.”

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“Anyone who prescribes opioids and other controlled substances must comply with professional standards and the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to ensure that medical providers abide by the Controlled Substances Act.”

“The DEA continues to hold prescribers and all medical professionals accountable when they violate the law,” stated Jarod A. Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Division.  “Overprescribing controlled substance pharmaceuticals remains a key threat and can lead to overdoses.  We will continue to investigate these prescribers in order to save lives.”

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The government alleged that from 2014 to 2019, Allen, who practiced medicine as a physician assistant at the Centers for Rehabilitation, Pain Management, and Wellness in Pikesville, Maryland, issued hundreds of prescriptions that had no legitimate medical purpose and fell outside the usual course of professional medical practice. 

More specifically, the government’s complaint alleged that Allen repeatedly prescribed dangerous and potentially lethal combinations of opioids and benzodiazepines. The complaint also alleged that Allen continued to prescribe patients opioids even after some tested positive for illicit or unprescribed substances in urine toxicology screens. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally recommends that primary care clinicians avoid daily dosages of opioids over 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME), the government alleged that Allen wrote prescriptions that could cause some patients to exceed 700 MME daily. The government alleged that prescriptions written by Allen were a contributing factor in the death of at least one Marylander. Allen denied the government’s allegations.

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U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron and Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton commended the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, Washington Division, Baltimore District Office for its work in the investigation.  U.S. Attorney Barron and Acting Assistant Attorney General Boynton also thanked Assistant United States Attorney Alan C. Lazerow and Trial Attorneys Donald Lorenzen and Thomas S. Rosso of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch, who handled the case.

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