Traverse City Physician Prohibited from Prescribing Controlled Substances

A Traverse City physician is now prohibited from prescribing controlled substances.

Samuel P. Copeland, D.O. of Traverse City, has entered into a settlement with the United States, agreeing to a court order to never prescribe controlled substances, according to the United States Attorney’s Office Western District of Michigan.

According to the terms of the consent decree that U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney entered, Copeland additionally agreed to surrender his controlled substance registration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and will pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to resolve allegations filed in a civil complaint by the U.S. that he unlawfully prescribed controlled substances to patients.

Officials say the civil penalty amount was negotiated based on Copeland’s ability to pay.

The settlement stems from a complaint filed Oct. 27, 2021, in which the United States alleged that Copeland issued prescriptions for controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and “outside of the usual course of professional practice in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.”

The U.S. alleged that Copeland ignored warnings from other practitioners, pharmacists and insurers that his prescribing was illegitimate and dangerous. This includes prescribing a highly-abused cocktail of opioids, benzodiazepines and carisoprodol, which is a dangerous combination known as the “Holy Trinity.”

Moreover, the U.S. alleged that Copeland ignored fail drug screen tests that showed his patients were taking illicit drugs or not taking the medications he prescribed, and that Copeland prescribed large opioid doses that exceeded national guidelines for chronic pain management.

Furthermore, the U.S. alleged in their complaint that Copeland’s unlawful prescribing had consequences, stating the following: “Scores of Dr. Copeland’s patients received dangerously high doses of opioids, including combinations with other drugs. Some of these patients, for whom it was common knowledge that Dr. Copeland would over prescribe narcotics for little to no medical reason, shared their drugs with others or sold them on the street. And many of Dr. Copeland’s patients overdosed on the controlled substances he prescribed.”

“The Court’s entry of this consent decree prohibiting Dr. Copeland from ever prescribing controlled substances demonstrates the seriousness of these allegations,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Birge. “The opioid epidemic continues to plague our communities, and my office will work tirelessly with DEA and other law enforcement to use all tools necessary to enforce compliance with controlled substance prescribing laws.”

“It is imperative that physicians uphold their obligations to properly prescribe controlled substances,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Kent R. Kleinschmidt, Detroit Field Division. “Our nation is in the midst of a public health crisis, and everyone in the medical field, especially physicians, must do their job to help prevent addiction. DEA will continue to work with all levels of law enforcement to investigate allegations of unlawful prescribing.”