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A South Jersey doctor illegally prescribed more than a million opioid doses, authorities say

The former Bordentown Township physician illegally prescribed enough opioids to provide three doses to every person in Burlington County.

Morris Starkman, a doctor in Bordentown, N.J., was charged Wednesday for illegally prescribing opioids.
Morris Starkman, a doctor in Bordentown, N.J., was charged Wednesday for illegally prescribing opioids.Read moreCourtesy of Burlington County Prosecutors Office (custom credit)

A former Bordentown Township physician has been charged with illegally prescribing nearly 1.4 million opioid doses in three years, prosecutors said.

Morris “Moishe” Starkman, 60, was charged Wednesday with eight counts of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, four counts of health-care claims fraud, and two counts of insurance fraud.

Between January 2015 and January 2018, Starkman prescribed about 1.4 million total doses of opioids, which included drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl, to patients at his Bordentown Family Practice, according to prosecutors.

“He was one of the top prescribers in New Jersey,” said Scott Coffina, Burlington County prosecutor. “The number of opioids he prescribed for the three-year period reviewed during the investigation was enough to provide in excess of three doses to every man, woman, and child residing in Burlington County."

The charges against Starkman, who surrendered his medical license in April 2018 after having been suspended in 2017, outlined eight patients who received 11 doses of opioids per day on average during that three-year period.

“One patient alone was prescribed 17,460 doses, which equates to more than 15 per day,” the prosecutor’s office said in a news release. “They each received anywhere from four to 10 times the maximum dose recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.”

Starkman performed “cursory examinations on patients before prescribing large amounts of opioids without medical justification,” police said, and “maintained inadequate records on his patients, which failed to document treatment plans for pain management or opioid use.”

The investigation, which was prompted by a tip from an insurance company, also revealed that Starkman submitted more than $50,000 in fraudulent health-care claims to insurance companies.

Starkman was released following his first appearance in Superior Court.