DRYDEN, N.Y. (WETM) – A Tompkins County doctor will pay up more than $70,000 for giving a patient dozens of morphine pills every day—as well as valium—for over a decade while the patient also used cocaine and oxycodone.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Dr. Howard Silcoff, the doctor at Dryden Family Medical Practice and the former Tompkins County Medical Examiner, agreed to pay $70,377 to resolve the allegations and reimburse Medicare. According to the announcement, Silcoff “prescribed controlled substances for non-legitimate purposes” and made fake claims to Medicare.
Specifically, Silcoff admitted that for over 10 years, he prescribed 35 morphine pills per day, as well as diazepam (brand name Valium), despite the drug carrier warning against prescribing both opioids (morphine) and benzodiazepines (Valium) at the same time. Then, in 2017, after finding out that the patient was using cocaine and oxycodone, Silcoff didn’t make any changes to the prescription for 17 months.
Eventually, Silcoff put the patient on a prescription to treat opioid dependence, pain, and withdrawal.
Multiple drug tests were negative for the diazepam—which was taken “inconsistently” by the patient—which the court said points to the fact that the Valium prescriptions “had no legitimate medical purpose”. The announcement also said that “morphine prescriptions were excessive and dangerous to both the patient and the general public”.
The announcement said that U.S. and N.Y. law say that controlled substances can only be prescribed in doses “ordinarily recognized by the medical profession as sufficient for treatment” and for “a legitimate medical purpose”. It also has to be “medically necessary” in order to be reimbursed by Medicare.