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TRENTON — A south Jersey doctor has agreed to a temporary suspension of her license while she fights allegations that she "indiscriminately" prescribed a spray form of the highly addictive painkiller fentanyl to three patients, including one who died,...

N.J. doctor accused of improperly prescribing addictive drug agrees to suspension

TRENTON — A south Jersey doctor has agreed to a temporary suspension of her license while she fights allegations that she "indiscriminately" prescribed a spray form of the highly addictive painkiller fentanyl to three patients, including one who died,...

N.J. doctor accused of improperly prescribing addictive drug agrees to suspension

TRENTON — A south Jersey doctor has agreed to a temporary suspension of her license while she fights allegations that she "indiscriminately" prescribed a spray form of the highly addictive painkiller fentanyl to three patients, including one who died, Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced Tuesday.

Vivienne Matalon, who operates offices in Camden and Cherry Hill, signed an agreement with the state Board of Medical Examiners Friday that she would no longer accept new patients and stop writing prescriptions for controlled dangerous substances immediately. Her suspension begins Oct. 31, according to Porrino's announcement.

The suspension will last as long as it takes for the state's licensing and disciplinary board for physicians to hold a hearing and making a ruling, the announcement said.

State investigators last week filed a complaint against Matalon alleging professional misconduct and gross negligence, for allegedly giving three patients a drug expressly made for cancer patients with uncontrollable pain and are tolerant of "around-the-clock opioid therapy."

N.J. moves to suspend doctor's license 

"We allege that Dr. Matalon jeopardized her patients' welfare by ignoring the documented risks associated with Subsys and by flouting the rules for its use," Porrino said. "Doctors who abuse their power to prescribe controlled dangerous substances not only pose a grave risk to the public, they fuel the growing opioid and prescription drug addiction that is ravaging our nation."

Svetlana Ros, Matalon's attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Doctors who prescribe the drug, Subsys — derived from opioid fentanyl — must sign documents acknowledging this highly-addictive drug is for cancer patients only, according to Porrino's announcement.

Investigators said Matalon prescribed it to a 32-year-old woman she was treating for chronic pain, diabetes and fibromyalgia, who also had a history of substance abuse. The doctor is accused of inviting a sales representative to her office to meet with the the patient to explain the benefits of the drug, but failing to explain its side effects and risks, according to the complaint.

The patient took the drug for 14 months and died in March. The autopsy revealed she had "significant levels of fentanyl metabolites in her blood," according to Porrino's announcement.

Investigators also alleged Matalon's improperly prescribed Subsys to a 31-year-old woman with Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and a 61-year-old woman who was in remission from cancer for more than a decade but was suffering from an unrelated illness, Porrino's announcement said. The older woman suffered side effects including dizziness and vomiting and eventually stopped using the drug.

Patients who have been inappropriately prescribed Subsys should contact the Division of Consumer Affairs by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.

Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

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