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Justice Department Obtains Temporary Restraining Order to Prevent Tampa-Area Physician from Writing Opioid Prescriptions

A federal court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting a Tampa-area physician from prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, the Department of Justice announced today.

In a complaint filed on July 18, and unsealed yesterday, the United States alleges that Dr. Neelam Taneja Uppal unlawfully wrote opioid prescriptions in the names of individuals depicted in photographs of driver’s licenses she received via text messages from a third party in exchange for payment for the prescriptions. 

The complaint alleges that Dr. Uppal never met the individuals for whom she wrote prescriptions, and that she sold the prescriptions to a third party. The complaint further alleges that Dr. Uppal received thousands of dollars in cash on multiple occasions for a variety of opioid prescriptions. The complaint seeks to permanently bar Dr. Uppal from issuing controlled substances prescriptions, or owning or supervising a pain clinic, and it also seeks civil penalties.

“It is unlawful for a physician to write opioid prescriptions for individuals they have never met and then sell those prescriptions to a third party,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will use every enforcement tool available under the Controlled Substances Act to protect our communities from rogue medical professionals.”

“The illegal distribution and use of opioids have led to a nationwide epidemic,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida. “Physicians who prescribe these dangerous drugs without legitimate medical cause violate not only the law, but also their oath to do no harm.”

“At a time when we need to be doing all that we can to prevent drug misuse and overdoses, DEA will not tolerate doctors who knowingly break the law, jeopardizing the safety and health of our communities by recklessly prescribing controlled substances,“ said DEA Miami Field Division Special Agent in Charge Deanne L. Reuter. “DEA will continue working with our law-enforcement partners to pursue cases against anyone contributing to the deadly overdose epidemic in this country.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Barber granted the temporary restraining order in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

 DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad in the Tampa District Office is conducting the ongoing investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay S. Griffin and Trial Attorneys Thomas S. Rosso and Scott B. Dahlquist of the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch are handling the case.

The claims made in the complaint are merely allegations that the United States must prove if the case proceeds to trial.

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