Federal court bars doctor located in Cottonwood Heights from prescribing opioids

Nov 1, 2022, 2:00 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:19 am
Dr. Sean Ponce...
FILE: The Justice Department building on a foggy morning on December 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
(Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Dr. Sean Ponce, a Utah physician that specializes in addiction medication, is barred from issuing prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances.

A federal judge entered a consent order after a complaint was made by U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, Trina A. Higgins. In her complaint, Higgins alleged that Ponce would “cater to customer requests for opioids and other controlled substances, at times using text messages to arrange the exchange of prescriptions for cash.”

The government further alleged that Ponce’s prescriptions were a violation of the Controlled Substance Act

How it happened

Ponce is also accused of using a virtual office, located in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Here, Ponce is alleged to have met with customers that paid cash, but had no legitimate examinations or medical findings that supported Ponce prescribing the controlled substances.

“Doctors who facilitate the illegal diversion of opioids and other controlled substances harm the public and violate the law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in a press release.

“In the District of Utah, we will enforce the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act,” said Higgins in a press release. “This includes violations of the Act committed by doctors and healthcare professionals who unlawfully distribute controlled substances under the guise of legitimate medical practice.”

Ponce’s actions erode the trust given to healthcare professionals, said special agent in charge of the DEA Rocky Mountain Division, Brian Besser. “When public trust is broken and healthcare providers seek to benefit from those that are at risk, they will most certainly be held accountable.

What accountability looks like in this case  

Ponce has been ordered to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $65,000.

He is prohibited from owning a business or medical practice where controlled substances are handled. And he is prohibited from administering, dispensing, or distributing controlled substances, or managing other medical providers who do the same.

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Federal court bars doctor located in Cottonwood Heights from prescribing opioids