Essex County Physician Agrees to Permanently Cease Clinical Practice of Medicine in NJ Amid Allegations He Indiscriminately Prescribed CDS to Patients He Treated for Addiction

For Immediate Release: March 12, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
– Cari Fais, Acting Director
Division of Law
– Michael T.G. Long, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Lisa Coryell
OAGpress@njoag.gov

Final Consent Order

TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that an Essex County vascular surgeon has agreed to permanently cease engaging in the clinical practice of medicine and surgery in New Jersey to resolve allegations he indiscriminately prescribed high volumes of controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”) to patients he treated for addiction.

Marc Watson, MD, who practiced in Cedar Grove, NJ, agreed to permanently forfeit his authority to diagnose, treat, or render medical care in New Jersey to resolve allegations stemming from an investigation conducted by the Division’s Enforcement Bureau.

“As New Jersey continues to fight the addiction epidemic and provide resources for those battling substance use disorders, we will not allow our efforts to be undermined by doctors whose negligent prescribing allows dangerous, habit-forming drugs to flow into our communities,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We will continue working to identify and prevent problem prescribers from impeding the work we’re doing to stop the scourge of addiction and save lives.”

The State alleges that Watson, who has been practicing addiction medicine since 2005, engaged in gross negligence and professional misconduct by prescribing high volumes of CDS to his patients without sufficient medical justification—including highly addictive benzodiazepines, stimulants and, in some cases, narcotics. He also engaged in inadequate physical examinations, patient monitoring, and record keeping, the State alleges.

An inspection of Watson’s medical office and review of his patient records revealed that in some cases, he prescribed CDS for years without fully assessing the patient’s underlying medical conditions or referring the patient to alternate treatment providers, like psychiatrists.

In August 2023, Watson appeared before a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (“PEC”) of the Board and admitted that he has no formal training in addiction medicine and did not see any patients in person or conduct any urine drug screens between March 2020 and August 2021. Additionally, Watson testified that he often fails to obtain a patient’s prior medical records; diagnoses conditions—including psychiatric and neurological conditions—without adequate testing; and has prescribed CDS upon a patient’s initial presentation before first prescribing safer alternative medications, as required.

“Physicians prescribing controlled dangerous substances must follow the laws and regulations in place to protect patients and reduce the risk of drug misuse and diversion. This is especially critical when treating patients for substance use disorders,” said Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “The alleged conduct of this doctor demonstrates a serious breach of professional standards and an alarming lack of good judgment.  The action we’re announcing today ensures he will never again be in a position to endanger his patients or the public at large through indiscriminate prescribing.”

Under a final consent order filed by the Board on February 22, 2024, Watson must close his office and permanently cease engaging in the clinical practice of medicine and surgery in New Jersey, following a 30-day wind-down period to allow him to transfer the care of his patients. Additionally, after the wind-down period, Watson’s New Jersey CDS Registration, which allowed him to prescribe controlled dangerous substances in this state, will be permanently retired with prejudice and he is prohibited from reapplying for one in the future. Watson is permitted to retain his medical license only for the limited purpose of conducting mandated on-site testing of construction workers in connection with his ownership and operation of a mobile Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) testing company.  He is prohibited from practicing medicine in any other capacity—or seeking to expand the scope of his medical practice—beyond what is permitted in the final consent order.

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

The State was represented by Deputy Attorney General Michelle F. Mikelberg, under the supervision of Section Chief Doreen A. Hafner and Assistant Section Chief David M. Puteska, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section, within the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group of the Division of Law.

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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