Dr. James Cowan, Jr., who practiced from a home office in Ridgewood, allegedly allowed his wife, a clinical social worker, to continue running his medical practice when he became too ill to work. While confined to a hospital, and then a nursing home, the 72 year old Cowan allegedly pre-signed prescription blanks for his wife to dispense highly addicting drugs to his patients, many of whom exhibited signs of drug seeking behavior.
Under a Consent Order with the Board of Medical Examiners (BME), Cowan is barred from practicing medicine and also from writing prescriptions for CDS until the Board takes further action. Cowan is also required to surrender all prescription pads, and any CDS in his possession, except for those lawfully prescribed for his own use.
“It is unthinkable that a doctor would deliberately jeopardize the safety of his patients by allowing an unlicensed individual to dispense highly addictive drugs to them without the education, experience, or authority to do so,” said Acting Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “The Board of Medical Examiners rightfully took swift action to ensure the public is protected while these accusations are pending.
"The Board takes allegations of doctor misconduct very seriously, especially when they involve the overprescribing of CDS,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Prescription drug addiction is a nationwide issue and we will not tolerate members of the medical community contributing to the problem by putting drugs into the hands of patients who don’t legitimately need them.”
According to the state’s allegations, investigators reviewed multiple patient records maintained by Cowan and found that a majority of the records failed to document medical necessity for the medications provided. The records also failed to have any explanation or documentation of any treatment provided. In some, the basic demographic sheets were completely blank.
Cowan’s office manager told investigators that Cowan’s patients exhibited drug seeking behaviors and were often aggressive. Patients wandered into the upstairs private bedroom area to find Cowan, instead of waiting in the basement office area to be seen, and Cowan routinely left prescriptions for patients in an outside mailbox for after-hour pickups, according to the office manager.
This investigation was conducted by the Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs.
Deputy Attorney General David M. Puteska from the Division of Law is representing the State in this matter.
Robert T. Pickett is representing Cowan 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.