A Pennsylvania physician is being sued for allegedly prescribing opioids in a reckless manner that caused a former patient’s addiction, according to a civil lawsuit filed earlier this month.
The doctor, Ajeeb John Titus, MD, has been accused by former patient Carl Graves of prescribing at least 7,400 oxycodone pills and 1,700 amphetamine pills between 2016 and 2020, without ordering any diagnostic testing or attempting alternative treatment options, according to the legal filing. Graves claims that Titus’ prescribing practices led directly to a severe opioid addiction.
Graves, who is joined in the lawsuit by his wife, Sandi Jo, claims he was hospitalized several times after receiving his final prescription from Titus on Sept. 21, 2020 — shortly before the physician was charged with multiple felony counts over alleged unlawful prescribing — and that he continued to require medical care for his addiction to the opioids prescribed by Titus, according to the legal filing.
In the court document, Graves claims that Titus “acted wantonly, recklessly and negligently by prescribing extreme amounts and combinations of dangerous and addictive narcotic medications without medical justification.”
The filing also notes that Titus failed to recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction, failed to wean Graves from the “deadly narcotic medications” when he “knew or should have known of the severe risk of harm that would result,” and that Titus was “solely and exclusively” responsible for the addiction. As such, Graves and his wife are demanding at least $100,000 in damages.
According to a report by Lehigh Valley Live news, Titus was arraigned in September 2020 on 21 counts of unlawful administration of a controlled substance, four counts of dispensing a controlled substance to a drug-dependent person, three counts of drug possession with intent to deliver , and one counts of drug possession and drug possession by misrepresentation. The report also noted that he was released on bail shortly afterwards.
The charges were related to the same opioid prescribing practices named in the Graves lawsuit, but included a 10-year period, from January 2010 to January 2020, that involved several anonymous patients. Graves is not specifically named in those charges.
Titus was charged because he prescribed controlled substances — such as oxycontin, oxycodone and fentanyl — “outside his legal and ethical practice of medicine,” according to a 2020 press release from Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
The press release also stated that Titus had failed to keep accurate medical records that would have supported the high volume of prescriptions for controlled substances, failed to perform routine exams on his patients, and charged that Titus would simply ask patients what kinds of medications they wanted to be prescribed.
“Titus was trusted by his community to carefully and thoughtfully write prescriptions in his patients’ best interests,” Shapiro said in the 2020 press release. “Instead, he used his access to prescribe highly addictive medications that are fueling the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania, and for his own gain.”