The New Jersey state medical board has suspended the license of a doctor accused of “indiscriminately prescribing” a nasal-spray version of the powerful painkiller fentanyl, including to a patient who later overdosed and died.

Dr. Vivienne Matalon, a Cherry Hill, N.J., family physician, agreed to the suspension pending an investigation by the board and a final resolution of professional misconduct allegations filed against her by the state. The voluntary suspension was agreed to on Friday, according to a press release issued Tuesday by state Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.

The state’s complaint against Matalon alleges that the physician endangered the life and safety of three patients when prescribing them the fentanyl product Subsys, marketed by Insys Therapeutics of Chandler, Ariz. Matalon did not return a telephone message left at her office.

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One of those patients was Sarah Fuller, whose story was chronicled by STAT last month. The 32-year-old New Jersey woman died of a fentanyl overdose after Matalon prescribed her Subsys.

Subsys is approved for use in cancer patients who are suffering sharp bouts of pain despite taking other opioids. But many physicians are prescribing the drug “off-label” for patients such as Fuller who do not have cancer.

Fuller suffered from neck and back pain from two car accidents and had also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Earlier this month, a former Insys executive was charged in a criminal complaint with defrauding insurers to get them to pay for prescriptions of patients who did not have cancer.

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  • It’s so sad how many people with opiate addictions knew to just go see Vivienne for a script! ( DR?? Not worthy of that title as a good Dr that truly cares about their patients doesn’t carelessly write prescriptions for numerous pain meds at one time and send them on their way never thinking twice of the potential dangers of mixing the several pain meds plus the 2 mg znanax plus muscle relaxers and finally the blood pressure meds that were constantly being adjusted ! Losing her license for a few years is such a slap in the face to the thousands of parents who are losing their children and loved ones from this opiate epidemic that has taken over our world! Drs who we are supposed to be able to trust , put our health problems in their hands for their professional guidance and advise …. instead hand out prescriptions for pain meds like they are running candy stores . Where is the justice here , because she can sit back and relax on all the money she made off of the many patients that if they didn’t go to her an addict they most definitely left with an opioid addition! If only my beloved son had been stronger and gotten the professional help for his opiate addiction instead of having Vivienne write him tablets of scripts … I would still be blessed with the hugs and long talks I always treasured with my late son. She is a professional Drug Dealer to the weak, certainly not worthy of holding the name DR!!!

  • My best friend died from an over dose of fentanyl. That is why I am reading about it. I am not familiar with it. My husband brought up a good point. If it is a nasal spray too, won’t they try to shoot it up?

  • So they accepted a voluntary suspension of her license. For how long? It seems to me that “indiscriminate prescribing” of a controlled substance that has led to at least one death ought to result in a permanent license revocation and jail time. The medical board can’t impose jail time, but they can revoke licenses. A temporary suspension doesn’t really protect the public.

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