NJ Attorney General Files Against Doctor After Woman Dies From 'Adverse Effects of Drugs'

The attorney general said the woman died from "adverse effects of drugs."

— -- The New Jersey Attorney General is seeking to temporarily suspend the license of a doctor who allegedly prescribed the highly addictive painkiller fentanyl off-label to three patients, according to a court filing.

One of the three patients, according to the court filing, is a 32-year-old woman who died from an "adverse effect of drugs" with "significant levels of fetanyl metabolites in her blood at the time of death."

Dr. Vivienne Matalon, an internal medicine doctor from Cherry Hill, has been accused of "allegedly indiscriminately prescribing a powerful spray form of the painkiller fentanyl" by Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. The complaint was filed with the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners.

"Given that opioid overdoses are killing more people in New Jersey than car crashes, it is appalling that a doctor would willfully disregard the federal restrictions placed on this extremely potent drug," Porrino said in a statement.

Fentanyl spray, called Subsys, is a powerful, fast-acting formulation of the drug that is absorbed under the tongue and into the bloodstream almost immediately.

"The only federally approved use for ... Subsys, is for the management of breakthrough pain in adult cancer patients who are already receiving, and who are tolerant to, around-the-clock opiod therapy for their underlying persistent cancer pain," according to a press release from the New Jersey Attorney General's office.

"Dr. Matalon's actions demonstrate a level of professional misconduct that requires immediate intervention to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public," the statement continued.

"It's a higher risk because you're getting a quicker higher blood level [of the drug]," Saper explained. "It's not metabolized, so it hasn't been neutralized by the liver."

The complaint argues that New Jersey "is suffering from a grave public health crisis: an epidemic of opiate abuse and addiction."

The complaint goes onto argue that "for many, the path to opiate addiction begins with legally prescribed pain medications" and said that fentanyl has "played an exacerbating role in the epidemic."

Matalon has been ordered to appear before the state Board of Medical Examiners on October 26.

Neither Matalon, nor her attorney responded to ABC News' request for comment.

ABC News' Gillian Mohney contributed to this report

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