By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – A Denver area doctor is accused of running what’s often referred to as a “pill mill” by overprescribing strong and highly addictive drugs to his patients. The case comes to light less than a month after lawmakers decided to take a closer look at the program designed to keep it from happening and found it hasn’t been working for years.

Psychiatrist Howard Weiss faces more than 100 counts related to overprescribing dangerous drugs with little to no patient examine or look into their history,

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“I brought details about therapy sessions I had done my report medical history. I kind of expected it to be an involved processes because this drug is one you wouldn’t to prescribe to just anyone,” a former patient, who asked not to be identified, said.

(credit: CBS)

She went to the practice in search of Vyvanse, a drug similar to Adderall, that other doctors were uncomfortable prescribing.

“Not what I expected from a psychiatrist. I would say it was probably too easy,” she said.

Her first visit to his office lasted just 15 to 20 minutes, and Weiss, she says, didn’t ask for details about other therapy sessions or medical history. Things she had done and reached a point where she thought turning to medication made sense and was a case she was ready to argue.

“It generally seems to be a very controlled process. Even the psychiatrist will do counseling beforehand before prescribing meds,” she said.

Authorities say Weiss’ cash-based business started in Colorado in 2003. State documents show it ended with a license suspension in 2019 for suspicion of overprescribing meds.

“It was probably a few weeks after the last visit I got a call from him, and he said ‘I just wanted to let you know I retired. Good luck finding another doctor,’” she said.

Howard Weiss (credit: Facebook)

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Now two years later, a federal indictment details the case authorities were building against him, identifying 16 patients who, in just a matter of months, received, among others, more than 10,000 Adderall pills and thousands of Desoxn pills, the trade name for methamphetamine.

All while investigators say Weiss failed to evaluate patients or use Colorado’s prescription drug monitoring program.

“What stood out to me the most is there were a number of physicians who were simply not following the rules,” Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet said. An audit of that program this year shows it had been failing in almost every aspect.

Allowing doctors to essentially run pill mills only adding to the epidemic of opioid abuse.

“An appropriately operating PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program) will stop doctors from overprescribing and keep people from falling into this epidemic,” Michaelson Jenet said.

For at least one of Weiss’ former patients, the indictment did not come as a surprise. She says his practice was more than just unusual.

“I wasn’t thinking of other patients and how his methods might negatively affect other people. Looking back now it’s obvious how things could have gone wrong,” she said.

CBS4 tried to reach Weiss for comment at his office building, home and through messages left on multiple numbers, but did not hear back.

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Lawmakers plan to discuss the recommendations for updating Colorado’s prescription monitoring program at a committee meeting In August.

Karen Morfitt