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NEWARK – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (“NJ CARES”), and the Division of Consumer Affairs (“the Division”) announced today that the State Board of Medical Examiners (“the Board”) has permanently suspended the license of a Middlesex County physician who indiscriminately prescribed highly addictive opioid painkillers to patients for years.
As of today, Dr. Alexander Kulischenko, an internist with a practice in East Brunswick, is permanently barred from practicing medicine under a Consent Order filed by the Board this week. The Order also permanently revokes Kulischenko’s NJ CDS registration, which allowed him to prescribe controlled dangerous substances in New Jersey.
“Doctors who indiscriminately prescribe addictive pain medications in violation of their professional obligations and state law place their patients at risk and increase the chances of those drugs falling into the wrong hands,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Each time a dangerous prescriber is taken out of practice permanently, we gain critical traction in our fight to end the opioid addiction epidemic in our state.”
Kulischenko agreed that his voluntary retirement from the practice of medicine would be deemed a permanent suspension of his medical license in order to resolve allegations stemming from an investigation by the Division’s Enforcement Bureau that revealed he had prescribed opioid painkillers to certain patients for years without tapering doses, referring the patients to alternate treatment modalities, or utilizing proper monitoring tools, which resulted in Kulischenko’s failure to recognize when it was necessary to refer the patients to a pain management physician or addiction specialist.
“A review of Dr. Kulischenko’s patient files found they lacked the narcotic contracts, Prescription Monitoring Program database searches, and toxicology screen results required in the treatment of chronic pain management,” Sharon M. Joyce, Director of NJ CARES. “Moreover, we found that a number of his patients were prescribed high doses of opioid pain medications that greatly exceeded guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) to reduce the risk of fatal overdoses.”
CDC guidelines advise prescribers to use caution when prescribing opioids at any dosage and to start with the lowest effective dosage; to carefully reassess the risks and benefits when considering increasing a patient’s dosage to 50 or more “morphine milligram equivalents” (MME) per day; and to avoid increasing dosage to 90 or more MME per day, or to carefully justify a decision to bring a dosage to that level.
In some cases, the opioid medications Kulischenko indiscriminately prescribed resulted in daily MME values between 800 and 1100.
“Dr. Kulischenko’s conduct cannot be squared with appropriate professional standards,” said Kaitlin A. Caruso, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “I commend the Board’s decision to permanently suspend his license to protect the public.”
Under the terms of the Consent Order, Kulischenko is prohibited from reapplying for a medical license or seeking a CDS registration in New Jersey in the future. He also must divest himself from any current and future financial interest in, or benefit derived from, the practice of medicine, and is precluded from managing, supervising, or overseeing the practice of medicine or the provision of healthcare in New Jersey.
Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Michelle Mikelberg, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, represented the State 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.