CRESTVIEW HILLS, KY — A Northern Kentucky doctor accused in a federal opioid case is taking one more legal step to regain his prescribing power.
Dr. Kendall Hansen's attorney Ron Chapman said Friday he plans to file an appeal against the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. The move comes one day after the board denied the doctor a hearing relating to the decision to restrict his prescribing power.
Hansen is a doctor at Interventional Pain Specialists, a large medical practice in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, that treats around 3,000 patients.
Federal agents have been investigating the practice for years, but have not filed any complaints concerning patient care.
Instead, federal prosecutors brought two complaints to a grand jury in November. One listed Hansen as a defendant, the other listed his coworker Dr. Michael Fletcher as a defendant.
In the indictment, agents accuse Hansen of getting other doctors to prescribe him controlled substances. Agents also said Hansen would prescribe medications to his employees and instruct them to bring the pills back to him.
Evidence suggests the prescriptions involve tramadol and phentermine. It appears the phentermine prescription was written in 2018 and the tramadol prescription was written in 2016.
The Drug Enforcement Agency considers both tramadol and phentermine schedule IV drugs. Schedule IV drugs, substances or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin and Ambien. Phentermine is a drug often used for weight loss.
The second complaint accuses Fletcher of writing illegitimate oxycodone hydrochloride prescriptions. The DEA considers that a schedule II drug.
A grand jury indicted both doctors, meaning they felt there is enough evidence to allow the cases to stand trial.
Those indictments led the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure to restrict Hansen and Fletcher's prescribing power in November.
Hansen was scheduled to be back in front of the board Thursday for a new hearing. Chapman planned to argue the board must reinstate Hansen's license or risk hurting hundreds of patients who need medical care.
Since the state restricts licenses after any indictment, the board refused to hear Hansen's argument for leniency this month.
“The hearing officer indicated that he would refuse to hear any additional evidence about Dr. Hansen’s practice, his compliance, the safety of his prescribing because the indictment alone, according to him, was sufficient to cause the suspension,” Chapman said.
As part of the last legal step to try to reinstate Hansen’s license, his attorney said he plans to file an appeal so that an appellate court can decide if the board needs to reconsider the denial of a hearing.
“We have real patients with real pain,” Chapman said. “They need to be treated, they need to be seen, and we’re getting very frustrated.”
“On top of all the pain, I’m having withdrawal symptoms,” said one patient, Jackie Carter.
The appeal comes at a time when the number of doctors willing to prescribe these medications is waning due to the opioid crisis.
“When a physician faces federal and state scrutiny like this, there’s not a lot of physicians out there who are willing to raise their hands and say, hey, I’ll come and help out," Chapman said. "The reason being is that they’re all scared as well based on what’s happened in this community."
Fletcher has not filed an appeal to reinstate his license. WCPO is still waiting for a response for comment from him or his legal team.