Bordentown doctor’s license suspended in pill-pushing probe
NEWARK - A Bordentown doctor's medical license undergoes suspension, while he answers allegations of indiscriminately prescribing powerful opiate painkillers for at least five years.
Prosecutors in the office of New Jersey Attorney General accused Dr.Moishe Starkman, a general practitioner, of prescribing "massive" quantities of Fentanyl and Oxycodone to patients, without physcial exams or supporting notes.
The complaint covers incidents as far back as 2012, at times involving more than 700 pills each month, and focuses on five patients, one of whom was a 22-year-old who died of an overdose two months after his last visit in 2015, authorities said.
Investigators allege that Starkman prescribed the narcotics for years, without creating pain-management plans, without assessing treatment effectiveness, without regard for signs of addiction or black-market dealing, without keeping progress reports, and without "reasonable efforts" to decrease dosages of addictive substances or to prescribe non-narcotic alternatives.
The deceased patient, identified as "H.H.," visted Starkman in July 2012, at age 19, for treatment of lower back pain. Investigators said that the patient listed medications he took at the time, including a muscle-relaxer, anti-anxiety drug, medications for attention deficit disorder and insomnia, and meds taken in conjunction with wisdom teeth removal.
Starkman allegedly prescribed muscle relaxers the same day, without physical exams or diagnostic testing to find the cause of the pain, then started an opioid regimen for the patient in August 2012.
He's accused of subsequently prescribing Xanax and as many as 240 pain pills per month during the following three years while failing to re-evaluate treatment or dosage levels.
The complaint goes on to allege that Starkman continued to prescribe Oxycontin, noting that HH was "slurring and falling asleep" during a visit in December 2014, and prescribed a higher dosage of Oxycodone the following month when the patient said he was "sick" and "ran out of all meds early again.
Starkman allegedly prescribed 120 Oxycodone tablets in H.H.'s final visit, March 16, 2015, noting that the patient was released from a Vermont mental health and addiction treatment center three days earlier, after a week of treatment for anxiety and panic attacks.
The doctor is accused of issuing six Oxycodone prescriptions, 120 each to T.A., a 29-year-old woman, in a 30-day period, amounting to a pill every hour of the month, wrote one progress note in 19 months and conducted one drug screen, which offered negative results for all tested substances including the Oxycodone.
Prosecutors allege that C.D., a 41-year-old woman was given prescriptions for between 600 and 720 Oxycodone tablets each month, with no exams, treatment plan, progress notes or patient documentation except copies of the prescriptions.
Starkman is accused of continuning the prescriptions despite a warning sent to his office by her insuror which noted that she filled 18 claims at four different pharmacies, and a separate warning that she had reached her opioid threshold for a 120-day period.
Additionally, Starkman allegedly prescribed up to 360 Oxycodone tablets and 120 Xanas pills monhtly to J.T., a 42-year-old man, with no physical exam, explicit history, review of prior treatments, or diagnoses of any pain the narcotics would address. At the same time, investigators said, J.T. consistently tested positive for cocaine in urine tests, and filled prescriptions from seven doctors with a year according to a Prescription Monitoring Program report.
Starkman allegedly was warned by another paitent that J.T. was "selling your scrips on the street" and "using someone else's pee to pass your drug screen."
The fifth patient, G.A., allegedly recived prescriptions for large doses and quanties of opiates, despite reporting no change in pain levels, and testing positive for marijuana in urine screenings.
Deputy Attorney General Delia A. DeLisi conducts the state's case. Starkman is represented by attorney Jay Blumberg.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
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