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Bergen County Psychiatrist's License Suspended Amid Allegations He indiscriminately Prescribed CDS to Patients


A Bergen County psychiatrist has agreed to the temporary suspension of his medical license amid allegations he indiscriminately prescribed Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) to patients, failed to keep proper patient records, and aided and abetted the unlicensed practice of medicine by allowing his wife to use his pre-signed prescription blanks to dispense drugs like Adderall and Xanax to his patients.

Dr. James Cowan, Jr., who practiced from a home office in Ridgewood, allegedly allowed his wife, a clinical social worker, to continue running his medical practice when he became too ill to work. While confined to a hospital, and then a nursing home, the 72 year old Cowan allegedly pre-signed prescription blanks for his wife to dispense highly addicting drugs to his patients, many of whom exhibited signs of drug seeking behavior.

Under a Consent Order with the Board of Medical Examiners (BME), Cowan is barred from practicing medicine and also from writing prescriptions for CDS until the Board takes further action. Cowan is also required to surrender all prescription pads, and any CDS in his possession, except for those lawfully prescribed for his own use.

According to the state’s allegations, investigators reviewed multiple patient records maintained by Cowan and found that a majority of the records failed to document medical necessity for the medications provided. The records also failed to have any explanation or documentation of any treatment provided. In some, the basic demographic sheets were completely blank.

Cowan’s office manager told investigators that Cowan’s patients exhibited drug seeking behaviors and were often aggressive. Patients wandered into the upstairs private bedroom area to find Cowan, instead of waiting in the basement office area to be seen, and Cowan routinely left prescriptions for patients in an outside mailbox for after-hour pickups, according to the office manager.

This investigation was conducted by the Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs.

Patients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed health care professional in an inappropriate manner can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.