|NEWARK –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that the State Board of Medical Examiners (“the Board”) has temporarily suspended the license of a Passaic County podiatrist amid allegations he prescribed large quantities of painkillers to patients for years without any legitimate medical purpose, and prescribed other drugs to treat conditions unrelated to podiatry.
Dr. Anthony Enrico, Jr., who has maintained practices in and around Paterson and Passaic, is accused of indiscriminate prescribing, practicing outside the scope of his podiatry license, and other standard of care violations in a Verified Complaint filed against him by Attorney General Porrino. The doctor will remain under temporary suspension until those allegations are fully resolved.
“We have made it abundantly clear that 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,” said Attorney General Porrino. “The action against Dr. 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.”
“The Board’s temporary suspension of Dr. Enrico’s license is a fitting action given the serious nature of the allegations against him,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By ensuring that this doctor will not treat patients or write prescriptions until this matter is resolved, the Board is fulfilling its duty to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.”
The allegations against Enrico stem from his treatment of seven patients between 2011 and 2016. The patients – five males and two females between the ages of 33 and 61 – were all diagnosed with virtually the same conditions of the foot and lower leg.
According to the Verified Complaint, Enrico demonstrated gross negligence and endangered the welfare of his patients 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 narcotics to treat diagnoses where narcotics are not 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 like Xanax and Ambien to treat conditions unrelated to podiatry.
The nine-count Complaint for the temporary suspension of Dr. Enrico’s license was filed on January 24, 2017, and scheduled for a hearing before the Board on February 8, 2017. That hearing was adjourned at Enrico’s request after he voluntarily agreed to stop practicing pending the outcome of the hearing.
The hearing was held before the Board on April 5, during which the State presented evidence that Enrico’s continued practice posed a clear and imminent danger to the public.
The Board agreed, finding the evidence showed Enrico grossly inappropriately prescribed narcotic analgesics; treated diagnoses with narcotics where they are not the accepted form of treatment; failed to adhere to most basic of principles of medication management in his CDS prescribing; and failed to justify why his patients required large amounts of narcotics for years at a time. The Board also found that Dr. Enrico’s “chronic and long-term” prescribing of medications was outside the scope of his podiatric license when he prescribed drugs such as Xanax, Lunesta and Ambien.
“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”) on the allegations against him and until the Board takes final action based on the OAL’s findings.
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.
Deputy Attorneys General Delia DeLisi and Alan Blankstein, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law, is representing the State in this matter.
Steven Bennet, Esq. of Frier Levitt, LLC, is representing Enrico in this matter.
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.
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