NEWBURYPORT — A local doctor accused of violating the federal Controlled Substances Act when he improperly prescribed opioids agreed to pay $12,500 to resolve the matter, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston.
Dr. Guido "Guy" Navarra, who owns Seacoast Medical Associates on the Anna Jaques Hospital campus at 21 Highland Ave., twice prescribed opioids outside the usual course of his professional practice, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
The fine covers two instances when Navarra violated the Drug Enforcement Agency's Controlled Substances Act, federal authorities said in a press release. The violations are considered civil, not criminal, offenses.
In one instance, a urine drug screen revealed the patient was taking opioids that Navarra had not prescribed. Navarra continued prescribing opioids to the patient despite the positive test result, a basis for discharging the patient from the practice.
In another instance, a patient requested an early refill of a prescription based on the woman's assertion that police seized the prescribed medication from her home.
Navarra continued to prescribe opioids to the patient for several more months despite the woman's inability to substantiate her claim. A urine drug test ultimately revealed the woman's use of illicit drugs.
In both instances, Navarra prescribed opioids outside the usual course of his professional practice, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
“Preventing the illegal prescription of drugs is essential to patient safety, particularly during an opioid epidemic,” acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell said in a statement. “This settlement is an example of how our office and the DEA work to ensure that doctors prescribe dangerous medications only when legally authorized to do so. We appreciate Dr. Navarra’s cooperation in the government’s investigation and swift resolution of the claims against him."
Special Agent in Charge Brian Boyle of the DEA's Boston division said the agency was committed to ensuring that all people registered to prescribe controlled substances are complying with regulations.
“Failure to do so increases the potential for diversion (of the drugs) and jeopardizes public health and public safety," Boyle said in the same statement. "DEA pledges to work with our law enforcement and regulatory partners to ensure these rules and regulations are followed."
Navarra's attorney, Richard Goldstein, said his client agreed to the settlement of civil claims to put the matter behind him.
"Dr. Navarra has been a respected internal medicine doctor in Newburyport for decades," Goldstein said in a phone interview.
Goldstein said Navarra has treated thousands of patients, including hundreds for chronic pain, and when two violated agreements with his practice, he stopped treating them immediately.
"He always acted in what he believed was in the patient's best interest," Goldstein said, adding that Navarra remains in good standing with Anna Jaques Hospital.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.