A well-known West Hartford doctor who was fined $42,500 by federal prosecutors this year after he was caught writing 11 illegal prescriptions has been given a reprimand, probation and a $10,000 fine by the state medical board, which is allowing him to continue practicing medicine.
The Medical Examining Board recently approved a consent order drafted by the Department of Public Health that places Dr. Murray Wellner on probation for two years and directs that he “not prescribe any medication for himself, his family or his friends.” The order also requires Wellner to hire a physician supervisor to conduct monthly reviews of his patients’ records and to provide information to the health department on his prescribing practices.
In April, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut announced that it had entered into a civil settlement with Wellner in which he would pay $42,500 to resolve allegations that he violated the Controlled Substances Act by writing out 11 prescriptions that were not dispensed to the individuals whose names were on them. The prescriptions were for Vyvanase and Subutex, both controlled substances. Additionally, Wellner failed to account for all of the controlled substances that he purchased and dispensed from his office, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Subutex, also known as buprenorphine, is an opioid medication that is used to ease withdrawal from heroin and other narcotics. Wellner has a special certification to prescribe Subutex and Suboxone, as required under federal rules. In recent years, the wider availability of buprenorphine has led to concerns about its abuse by recreational drug users.
Vyvanse is a central nervous system stimulant used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children.
The consent order drafted by the Department of Public Health [DPH] cites only the Vyvanse prescriptions, not Subutex. It says that Wellner admitted to writing prescriptions for Vyvanse “for approximately 8 patients who did not require said medication,” and that he “personally picked up the medications” and gave them to patients who “required, but could not afford, the medication,” using coupons he had.
He also admitted to prescribing Vyvanse “for his girlfriend, [whom] he was treating, without maintaining appropriate medical records.”
By state statute, the medical board is authorized to suspend or revoke the license of a physician for illegal or negligent conduct, for abusing drugs, or for dispensing controlled substances improperly, when it believes such conduct poses a threat to patients’ safety or health.
In a case last December, the board revoked the license of a Plainville physician for allegedly abusing drugs and failing to maintain adequate records of drugs he prescribed to others. In that case, the board found that Dr. Richard Luzietti wrote prescriptions for at least 33 people for drugs including oxycontin and alprazolam without keeping adequate records, and that he wrote out prescriptions for other drugs for his own use. The board said it proceeded with revocation because Luzietti’s continued practice of medicine posed a danger to public health and safety.
The probe of Wellner’s prescribing activities, which did not result in criminal charges, was conducted by investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control and the state Department of Consumer Protection, Drug Control Division. The prosecution was led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Soloway.