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NJ Authorities: Ridgewood Psychiatrist, 72, Had Wife Dispense Drugs For Him

Prescription drugs
Prescription drugs Photo Credit: Wikipedia

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- A 72-year-old Ridgewood psychiatrist allowed his social-worker wife to use pre-signed prescription blanks to dispense drugs such as Adderall and Xanax to his patients after he was confined to a hospital and then a nursing home, authorities said.

Dr. James Cowan, Jr., who practiced from a home office, agreed to the temporary suspension of his medical license followiong the allegations, acting New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.

Under a consent order with the state Board of Medical Examiners (BME), Cowan is barred from practicing medicine and also from writing prescriptions while the board decides his ulitimate fate, Porrino said.

He was also required to surrender all prescription pads and any drugs he had, except for those lawfully prescribed for his own use, he said.

“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,” Porrino said.

Investigators reviewed several patient records maintained by Cowan and found that a majority of them failed to document a need for the prescribed rugs. They also failed to have any explanation or documentation of any treatment provided.

"In some, the basic demographic sheets were completely blank," Porrino said.

Cowan’s office manager told investigators that patients "exhibited drug seeking behaviors and were often aggressive," the attorney general said.

"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," he said.

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 handling the case.

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