Pain doctors to defend licenses in emergency hearings

Dr. Kamal Tiwari
Published: .
Updated: .

Thursday update: The Medical License Board ruled 4-1 against the emergency suspension of Tiwari's license.

David MacAnally/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The state Attorney General said two Indiana pain doctors are a danger to the public and could have their medical licenses frozen at emergency hearings Thursday.

Dr. Kamal Tiwari was not to write anymore prescriptions for pain medicines. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) pulled his authorization three months ago after five patients died of overdoses. The state says he overprescribed those medications.

He may have lost his pain pill prescription pad, but the state says that didn't stop Tiwari, who runs a chain of pain centers south of Indianapolis, from finding an alternative way to keep the drugs flowing.

"In all the years I've worked in the office of the Attorney General, I've never seen a case where a physician has gone out of his way to try to circumvent the clear restrictions in place by the DEA and this office," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.

The Attorney General is also going after one of Tiwari's colleagues, Dr. Glenn Ballengee with the Pain Management Center of Southern Indiana. He's accused of handing out pain pill prescriptions to Dr. Tiwari's patients without even seeing them.

It started around May 1 at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Greenwood where Tiwari met with his clinic's doctors and laid out his plan. He proposed that one of them could travel with him to his pain clinics around the state. He would see the patients, and they could write the pain prescriptions.

The state says Ballengee agreed to do it, and in just over two months, he wrote 5,000 prescriptions for controlled substances. Ballengee would sign the prescriptions in advance, never seeing the patients, and Tiwari would hand them out.

"This is really over the top," Zoeller said. "The work that he's done in some of the prescriptions really is an abuse and I think it's a real danger to the patients."

The state says that in legal papers, Ballengee admits his role. Because of his depression, he felt that there was no where else to go for employment.

It's the latest in a series of cases involving alleged abuse by pain management specialists. Hundreds of patients, reliant on pain medications, now with no access to drugs.

"We're likely to see a lot of people who are addicted to the cocktail of prescription drugs show up in the emergency room, but there will be some fall out to all of this," Zoeller said.