Burlington County Doctor Temporarily Barred From Treating Patients Amid Allegations He Indiscriminately Prescribed Highly-Restricted Fentanyl “TIRF” Drugs and Other Opioids to Patients

NEWARK – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that a Burlington County doctor has been temporarily barred from treating patients amid allegations he indiscriminately prescribed addictive opioid pain medications to patients, including highly-restricted fentanyl “TIRF” drugs approved only for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain.

Dr. Louis Spagnoletti, a pain management specialist in Marlton, allegedly treated patients with high dosages of powerful opioids for years without justification, sometimes refilling full-month supplies multiple times a month, according to the State’s Complaint against him.

Among the controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”) Spagnoletti allegedly overprescribed were OxyContin, OxyCodone, and three highly-restricted transmucosal immediate release fentanyl – or “TIRF” – drugs that instantly deliver the powerful painkiller fentanyl through the oral membranes.

The TIRF drugs – sold under the brand names “Subsys,” “Actiq,” and “Fentora,” – are approved only to treat breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are already receiving – and tolerant to – around-the-clock opioid therapy for pain. Spagnoletti prescribed the drugs to three patients who did not meet that criteria, according to the State’s Complaint.

Under a Consent Order with the Board, Spagnoletti agreed to stop seeing patients and surrender his NJ CDS Registration that had allowed him to prescribe narcotics and other controlled substances, pending a full hearing in the Office of Administrative Law, and pending further action by the Board.

“It is unconscionable that a doctor would fail to address the underlying causes of pain and simply prescribe his patients ever-escalating quantities of opioids that mask their symptoms and put them at risk of becoming addicted,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Doctors who engage in this kind of indiscriminate prescribing not only deprive their patients of possible alternative treatments and solutions to pain, they directly contribute to New Jersey’s opioid addiction crisis. Their actions will not be tolerated.”

“The allegations against this doctor, if proven, represent such poor medical judgment that his continued clinical practice places the public in clear and imminent danger,” said Sharon M. Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The Board took appropriate steps to protect the public by barring him from treating patients until this very serious matter is resolved.”

The State’s allegations pertain to Spagnoletti’s treatment of seven patients during various periods between September 2005 and July 2017. The doctor is alleged to have engaged in gross negligence and professional misconduct that endangered patients’ lives by, among other things:

The Complaint, which identifies the patients by their initials, alleges that during the course of treatment Spagnoletti:

The State filed its Complaint on June 29, 2017. Spagnoletti had been prohibited from practicing medicine since August 3, under interim consent orders with the Board.

In a Consent Order with the Board filed in March, Spagnolett’s license was reinstated under an agreement that he will refrain from all clinical practice until his case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge, and pending further action by the Board. Under the terms of the Consent Order, Spagnoletti may not enter any medical office when patients may be present, and must obtain prior Board approval before engaging in any non-clinical medical employment.

Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation into Dr. Spagnoletti.

Deputy Attorney General Jillian Sauchelli, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law, is representing the State in the Spagnoletti matter.

Michael Keating, Esq., of Dughi, Hewitt and Domalewski, is representing Spagnoletti 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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