DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver area doctor is charged with running a “pill factory” by prescribing drugs that are too strong and highly addictive to his patients. The case comes to light less than a month after lawmakers decided to take a closer look at the program designed to prevent this and found it hadn’t worked for years.
Psychiatrist Howard Weiss has faced more than 100 cases related to overprescribing dangerous drugs, with few or no patients investigating or investigating their history
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“I brought details of therapy sessions that I did in my medical history report. I kind of expected it to be a complicated process because you wouldn’t prescribe this drug to everyone, ”said a former patient who did not want to be identified.
She went to the office looking for Vyvanse, an Adderall-like drug that other doctors couldn’t prescribe.
“Not what I expected from a psychiatrist. I would say it was probably too easy, ”she said.
Her first visit to his practice lasted only 15 to 20 minutes, and Weiss, she says, didn’t ask for details about other therapy sessions or medical history. Things she’d done and gotten to a point where she felt it made sense to take medication and was a case she was ready to argue on.
“It seems to be a very controlled process in general. Even the psychiatrist will consult beforehand before prescribing medication, ”she said.
Authorities say Weiss’ cash-based business began in Colorado in 2003. State documents show it ended in 2019 with a license suspension on suspicion of drug overdose.
“It was probably a few weeks after my last visit that I got a call from him and he said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that I have retired. Good luck finding another doctor, ‘”she said.
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Now, two years later, a federal indictment that the case authorities built against him detailed and identified 16 patients who received, among other things, more than 10,000 Adderall pills and thousands of Deoxn pills, the trade name for methamphetamine, in just a few months.
While investigators say Weiss did not evaluate patients or use Colorado’s prescription drug monitoring program.
“What I noticed most was that there were a number of doctors who just didn’t obey the rules,” said MP Dafna Michaelson Jenet. An audit of this program earlier this year shows that it failed in almost every aspect.
Allowing doctors to run essentially pill factories only adds to the opioid abuse epidemic.
“A properly functioning Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) will deter doctors from prescribing too much and people from getting into this epidemic,” said Michaelson Jenet.
For at least one former Weiss patient, the indictment came as no surprise. She says his practice was more than just unusual.
“I didn’t think about other patients and how his methods could negatively affect others. Now, when you look back, it’s obvious that things could go wrong, ”she said.
CBS4 attempted to reach Weiss in his office building, at home, and through messages on multiple numbers for comment, but received no response.
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Lawmakers plan to discuss recommendations for updating Colorado’s Prescription Monitoring Program at a committee meeting in August.