PASSAIC COUNTY, N.J. -- A Passaic County podiatrist "prescribed large quantities of painkillers to patients for years without any legitimate medical purpose" and "prescribed other drugs to treat conditions unrelated to podiatry," New Jersey's attorney general said Thursday.
Dr. Anthony Enrico, Jr., who has maintained practices in and around Paterson and Passaic, had his license temporarily suspended by the state Board of Medical Examiners while charges against him are pursued, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.
Porrino accused Enrico of "indiscriminate prescribing, practicing outside the scope of his podiatry license, and other standard of care violations.
"The doctor will remain under temporary suspension until those allegations are fully resolved," he said.
The case against Enrico "demonstrates our continued commitment to protecting the public from any doctor suspected of allowing dangerous, habit-forming drugs to flow unchecked into our communities," Porrino said.
“We will not allow unscrupulous doctors to fuel New Jersey’s opioid crisis by indiscriminately prescribing painkillers and other narcotics that serve as gateways to addiction,” he said.
The allegations stem from Enrico's treatment of seven patients -- five men and two women -- between 2011 and 2016, Porrino and state Division of Consumer Affairs Director Steve Lee said.
The patients, ranging from 33 to 61 years old, "were all diagnosed with virtually the same conditions of the foot and lower leg," Porrino said.
Enrico "demonstrated gross negligence and endangered the welfare of his patients," he said, by:
· Treating them with large quantities of addictive opiates – primarily oxycodone – for years, despite knowing there was a strong potential for the abuse or diversion of these drugs;
· Prescribing drugs to treat diagnoses where narcotics aren't the accepted form of treatment;
· Failing to assess patients for any substance abuse problems, enter into a Controlled Dangerous Substances (“CDS”) Agreement with each of them, or assess the efficacy of the narcotics he prescribed;
· Waiting a year or longer – and only after his patient records were subpoenaed – to check the Prescription Monitoring Program (“PMP”) to determine if his patients were receiving opioid prescriptions from other doctors;
· Failing to refer patients for an evaluation by a pain management specialist;
· Failing to treat his patients’ underlying podiatric conditions;
· Practicing outside the scope of his license in podiatry by prescribing controlled dangerous drugs, such as Xanax and Ambien, to treat conditions unrelated to podiatry.
The medical examiner's board schedued a February hearing after the nine-count complaint was filed, but Enrico got an adjournment to April by agreeing to stop practicing.
During the eventual April 5 hearing, state authorities "presented evidence that Enrico’s continued practice posed a clear and imminent danger to the public," Porrino said.
The Board agreed.
“No remedial measure less than the full temporary suspension of his podiatric license will suffice to protect the public interest,” the Board concluded in voting for the temporary suspension.
Enrico’s license will remain temporarily suspended pending a full hearing in the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”), followed by final action by the examiner's board.
Investigators with the DCA's Enforcement Bureau conducted the investigation. Representing the state are Deputy Attorneys General Delia DeLisi and Alan Blankstein of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law.
Patients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed health care professional in an inappropriate manner 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 .