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HLF Defends NJ Doctor Accused of Overprescribing Potent Opioids

After Undercover Sting, N.J. Doctor Accused of Overprescribing Potent Opioids

When an undercover investigator posing as a patient asked for more pills, the physician allegedly didn't hesitate. Officials say he gave the patient more -- even when she said she'd been selling the pills to pay rent.

That's just one of the accusations levied by the state Attorney General against Bruce Coplin, a 62-year-old Toms River doctor who has been accused of overprescribing several potent opioid medications, including fentanyl and OxyContin, to his patients, according to a written decision by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners.

The state Board of Medical Examiners unanimously ruled last month to strip Coplin -- a doctor in rehabilitation medicine -- of his ability to prescribe control dangerous substances to patients until a future hearing to decide if his license will be suspended or revoked, the decision said.

In its decision on Aug. 23, the state Board of Medical Examiners said Coplin "engaged in a pattern of careless and reckless conduct" in prescribing these medications to eight of his pain management patients between July 13, 2017, and Nov. 20, 2017.

The accusations emerged after a state and federal investigation into Coplin last year involving two undercover patients along with secret videotaped surveillance of office visits, according to the Board of Medical Examiners.

The decision alleged that Coplin "placed his patients in imminent danger by writing prescriptions for opioids" for no medical purpose.

Coplin's attorney, John Hanamirian, told NJ Advance Media that Coplin "could have definitely been more aware of what was happening in his patient population." However, he said that Coplin had 660 patients at the time and that many of them had come to him with existing prescriptions for their conditions.

"It's not a reflection of the (entire) patient population," he said.

One of the undercovers had repeatedly told Coplin that she had no pain at the time of her follow-up visits, according to the decision. And when she told Coplin during a visit in October 2017 that she had "sold some of her pills for rent money," Coplin allegedly ignored the comment.

During a visit about a month earlier, the other undercover patient allegedly told Coplin that he had to "return some pills that he had previously 'borrowed.'" That comment was also disregarded.

However, according to the written decision, Coplin maintains that "he did not hear either investigator's comment" and claims the statements "were made in 'muffled' tones."