The Pennsylvania Board of Osteopathic Medicine refused Wednesday to let Thomas C. Barone, a pain management physician whose prescribing practices were linked to the deaths of four patients, return to his Center City practice.

The decision continues a license suspension that began two years ago, after investigators accused Barone of inappropriately prescribing tens of thousands of pills, most of them highly addictive opioid painkillers, to four patients who later died of overdoses, one of them due to heroin.

The medical board gave no reason for its decision, which will be followed by a written order. But a hearing examiner had recommended after a September hearing that Barone’s reinstatement petition be denied. She said that while Barone had completed a required training and skills assessment program, he did not follow up on 10 recommendations that the program had made. Among them was enrollment in a medical ethics course at Rutgers University after he scored in the lowest percentile on an ethics assessment.

Barone testified at the hearing that he believed the recommendations were unnecessary and not cost-effective.
Reached on Wednesday, Barone said only that he did not know whether he would reapply for his medical license.

No criminal charges have been brought against Barone. Prosecutors pursue criminal counts involving prescribing practices only in extraordinary cases.

– Don Sapatkin
Philly.com

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Emergency Physicians must balance under-treatment of pain with concerns about drug diversion and doctor shopping. Use of a state PDMP may help identify patients who are at high risk for prescription opioid diversion or doctor shopping… To quantify the effects of PDMPs, studies were conducted of ED providers who cared for adult patients with pain. Of the patients with complete data in one study, information from the state’s PDMP System altered prescribing practice in 41%. Knowledge of the information provided had an important impact.

ACEP - Annals of Emergency Medicine – 525

A study was conducted to estimate the societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States. Costs were grouped into three categories: health care, workplace, and criminal justice.

The results: Total US societal costs of prescription opioid abuse were estimated at $55.7 billion in 2007 (USD in 2009). Workplace costs accounted for $25.6 billion, health care costs accounted for $25.0 billion, and criminal justice costs accounted for $5.1 billion. Workplace costs were driven by lost earnings from premature death ($11.2 billion) and reduced compensation/lost employment ($7.9 billion).

Conclusions: The costs of prescription opioid abuse represent a substantial and growing economic burden for the society. The increasing prevalence of abuse suggests an even greater societal burden in the future.

Pain Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 4, April 2011
Rick Bunker

Rick Bunker

Rick Bunker is a co-founder, and the CEO of Prescription Advisory Systems and Technology (P.A.S.T.). In this role, he is responsible for capital formation and corporate development.
Rick Bunker
Prescription Advisory Systems & Technology

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