Former Albany doctor pays $125,000 for overprescribing opioids

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Former physician in Albany, Dr. James Cole, will pay $125,000 in a settlement to the United States for overprescribing opioids and other controlled substances to patients, including one patient who died. Cole will also forfeit his prescribing privileges and his medical license. 

The announcement by U.S. Attorney Carla Freedmen follows a combined investigation with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that resolves allegations in the settlement. Officials say Cole’s patients were prescribed high levels and the Holy Trinity” cocktail of controlled substances outside of the usual course of professional practice.

One of Dr. Cole’s patients died after taking a combination of fentanyl and oxycodone prescribed over six months before the fatal overdose. Said patient had overdosed using fentanyl strips prior to Cole’s prescription. An emergency room doctor took the strips from that patient. Officials say the next day, Dr. Cole prescribed more fentanyl strips for the patient along with oxycodone and morphine.

The settlement constitutes civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act, and damages sustained by Medicare when it reimbursed for Dr. Cole’s illegitimate prescriptions. He has surrendered his DEA registration, and, as part of the civil settlement, agreed not to seek a renewal for at least 15 years. In a separate agreement with New York State, he has also agreed to permanently forfeit his New York State medical license. 

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