New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners Obtains Voluntary License Suspension of Two North Jersey Doctors Accused of Prescribing Narcotic Painkillers Without Legitimate Medical Purposes
NEWARK - The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that two North Jersey family practitioners have surrendered their medical licenses temporarily amid allegations they indiscriminately prescribed highly addictive painkillers and other controlled dangerous substances (CDS) to patients without legitimate medical purposes.
Dr. Byung Kang, 76, of Little Falls, and Dr. Michael W. Rutigliano, 54, of Paramus, have entered Consent Orders with the Board of Medical Examiners prohibiting them from practicing medicine until further action by the Board. The physicians, who practice in their hometowns, are accused of indiscriminately prescribing powerful narcotics widely regarded as gateway drugs to addiction, and commonly abused or resold on the streets.
“With so many New Jersey families devastated by the rise in prescription drug addiction, it is beyond unconscionable that licensed medical practitioners would grant their patients easy access to the very pills fueling this deadly epidemic,” said Acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “Doctors who abuse their prescribing authority to make money are no better than street corner drug dealers, and are every bit as dangerous.”
“By suspending the licenses of Dr. Kang and Dr. Rutigliano while these serious allegations are pending against them, the Division of Consumer Affairs has taken swift action to protect the public,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The suspensions will ensure that these doctors will see no patients until these allegations are resolved.”
Kang is accused of indiscriminately prescribing CDS, according to the Consent Order. In May, following an undercover investigation, members of the Division’s Enforcement Bureau, the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at Kang’s medical office. The search revealed incomplete patient records that, in most cases, contained no plan of care for patients, and no medical justification for prescribing narcotics to them, according to prosecutors. The DCJ charged Kang with second-degree distribution of CDS, specifically Oxycodone. Upon his arrest, Kang voluntarily surrendered his NJ CDS Registration that had allowed him to prescribe narcotics and other controlled substances. In entering the Consent Order announced today, Kang has agreed to the suspension of his license to practice medicine in any way. The criminal case against him is pending.
Rutigliano came under investigation last fall when one of his patients was arrested in Bergen County while in possession of four pill bottles containing 319 tablets of Oxycodone prescribed him, prosecutors said. She also had 11 prescriptions, issued by Rutigliano, for Oxycodone and other narcotics. The Consent Order alleges Rutigliano indiscriminately prescribed CDS, including issuing prescriptions via a third-party to patients he did not see, and providing patients with future prescriptions for CDS, a practice known as “back-dating.” In at least one instance, Rutigliano prescribed narcotics to a patient he knew to be suffering from and receiving treatment for an addiction to opiate-based narcotics, the Consent Order states. When confronted by investigators, Rutigliano voluntarily surrendered his NJ CDS Registration that had allowed him to prescribe narcotics and other controlled substances. In entering the Consent Order announced today, Rutigliano has agreed to the suspension of his license to practice medicine in any way.
The Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau conducted these investigations.
Deputy Attorney General Gezim Bajrami represented the State in the Rutigliano matter.
Deputy Attorney General Pavithra Angara represented the State in the Kang matter.
The Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs have launched a comprehensive strategy to fight the diversion and abuse prescription pain killers. This effort includes:
- The expansion of the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP) to include direct data-sharing with the prescription monitoring programs maintained by New York, South Carolina, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Virginia, Connecticut, and Delaware. As of June 30, 2016, approximately 95 percent of New Jersey’s licensed doctors eligible to access the NJPMP as CDS prescribers had registered to do so. The NJPMP keeps detailed data on prescriptions filled in New Jersey for CDS and the Human Growth Hormone.
- Launching the first-in-the-nation online app that allows authorized users of the NJPMP access to the database via Apple smartphones and handheld devices. The app is located in iTunes; Google Play; and the Microsoft App Store.
- The creation of the Pain Management Council, an advisory body that is working to develop best practice recommendations concerning pain management for New Jersey’s healthcare professionals. The goal is to create voluntary guidelines that will enable prescribers to provide effective pain management to patients, while also maintaining controls to prevent drug diversion and abuse.
- Expanding “Project Medicine Drop” to 158 locations across New Jersey. The Division of Consumer Affairs installed secure "prescription drug drop boxes" at police departments, sheriff's offices, and State Police barracks, allowing citizens to safely dispose of their unused, excess, or expired prescription medications at any time without an appointment.
Patients who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer
Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846
(toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.