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[ATG] Board suspends license of Fort Wayne doctor accused of dangerous prescribing of opioid painkillers
Start Date: 3/24/2016Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/24/2016
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Medical Licensing Board today voted to immediately suspend the license of Dr. Michael Cozzi, owner and operator of FW Interventional Pain Management in Fort Wayne, for allegations of dangerous prescribing of controlled substances.

A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation revealed that Cozzi prescribed more controlled substances than any other prescriber in Indiana from January 2014 to February 2016, including 2 million doses of Oxycodone and 1.2 million doses of hydrocodone. In one month, he prescribed controlled substances to about 1,700 patients, seeing 90 to 100 patients per day. According to the Attorney General’s petition to suspend his license filed Tuesday, three of Cozzi’s patients died due to complications of this drug use.

During a licensing hearing today in Indianapolis, the Medical Licensing Board approved the Attorney General’s emergency suspension petition, suspending Cozzi’s license to practice medicine in the State of Indiana for at least 90 days until the AG’s Office completes its investigation into these allegations and files a formal licensing complaint. Once a formal complaint is filed, the Board would determine any further disciplinary action, such as further license suspension, revocation or fines.

Now that Cozzi’s license is suspended to protect the health and safety of the public, the Attorney General’s focus is on ensuring help is available for former patients of Cozzi who may have opioid addictions due to the doctor’s alleged overprescribing. 

“Our concern is for the patients of this license holder who may have been overprescribed to the point of addiction and now will be left struggling with painful withdrawal symptoms that might lead them to opiate-based heroin or other deadly options if they are not connected to treatment. The Allen County health community is ready to step in and help with this need immediately. This is yet another example of how this drug abuse epidemic is man-made and why we continue to see opioid and heroin overdoses rise. Our job is not over when the prescriber is cut off; it really only begins,” Zoeller said.

Zoeller gave the Allen County Health Department immediate notice about this license suspension so that its staff could put a crisis response plan in place to help Cozzi’s former patients in need of care and treatment.

“Every time a health-care provider that is prescribing opiates unsafely is stopped from doing so, our community becomes a little safer. Unfortunately, this type of prescribing can have negative consequences not only for the patients they are seeing, but the community at large,” Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan said. “Untethered prescribing of narcotics causes both unintentional addiction and accidental overdoses. We appreciate the efforts of our Attorney General and his staff, our local law enforcement and the DEA to identify and eliminate such risk to our patients. Please know that the local medical community will be working together to help with our community address this issue as best we can. This provides a tremendous opportunity for the public and private sector to work together to address this opioid crisis.”

Dr. McMahan and local partners created the Crisis Pain Management Tool Kit for Allen County Health Care Providers in 2014, after another overprescriber in the community, Dr. William Hedrick, was stripped of his medical license.

To help stop deadly overdoses, Zoeller’s office established a grant program to fund training and distribution of naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote, to first responders. He urges law enforcement and first responder agencies who have not already done so to contact nonprofit grant recipient Overdose Lifeline at FirstResponders@overdose-lifeline.org to apply for the funding, so that all first responders can be ready to save the life of an overdose victim.

In Indiana, members of the public who need to have a supply of naloxone on hand for a family member who is at risk for overdose can now obtain the antidote over the counter. It is available from pharmacies and other entities that are registered with the Indiana State Department of Health to distribute naloxone through a Standing Order. More information about obtaining naloxone can be found here.

In 2015, Zoeller’s office took action against nearly 140 licensed health professionals for drug diversion, overprescribing and addiction.

FW Interventional Pain Management is located at 2510 E. Dupont Road, Suite 115, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825. Cozzi was the sole licensed health-care practitioner at this facility.

Any criminal charges against Cozzi would be separate from the Attorney General’s action against his medical license.

Zoeller thanked Deputy Attorney General Jessica Krug and investigators with the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for their work on this case.

Attorney General Zoeller is creator and co-chair of the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, established in 2012 to reduce controlled substance abuse in Indiana. More information on the Task Force and the Attorney General’s efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse can be found at www.BitterPill.in.gov.  
Contact Information:
Name: Molly Gillaspie
Phone: 317.232.0168
Email: molly.gillaspie@atg.in.gov
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