ELLSWORTH — The state Board of Licensure in Medicine has suspended the license of Dr. Brandt Rice following allegations that he wrote fraudulent prescriptions for thousands of pain pills.
As of June 12, Rice’s Maine medical license was suspended for 30 days pending an adjudicatory hearing. According to state records, Rice has been practicing in Brooklin and in Montgomery County, Md.
Rice has been charged with four counts of unlawfully obtaining a prescription drug by Montgomery County Police in Maryland.
After its June 12 review of evidence in the case, the board concluded that “the continued ability of Dr. Rice to hold an active license to practice medicine in the state of Maine constitutes an immediate jeopardy to the health and safety of the public who might receive his medical services.”
According to the order of suspension, the Board of Licensure reviewed information indicating that Rice may have issued more than 200 fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances between 2014 and 2017.
According to the preliminary findings outlined in the suspension order, Rice was first licensed to practice medicine in Maine in 2008. His current license expires Dec. 1, 2019.
According to a May 2009 article in The Ellsworth American, Rice opened Coastal Family Medicine of Maine in Blue Hill in 2009.
Rice sought to renew his Maine medical license Jan. 16 of this year. The application said he provides “gratis/concierge/and locums work” in Maine. He listed his current home and business address as being in Maryland.
On May 8, the board received a complaint from a patient who alleged that Rice was under investigation by Maryland authorities “for procuring oxycodone for a fake patient,” according to the suspension order.
The same patient alleged that during the time she was seeing Rice, that he “was liberal in handing out of samples of benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines as well as opiates,” leading the patient to become dependent on Xanax, a prescription sedative used to treat anxiety and panic disorder.
The spouse of another patient complained to the board that he had been unable to get copies of his spouse’s medical records from Rice.
On May 14, the order said, the board staff obtained an online news article stating that Rice had been charged with forging prescriptions in Maryland for a “fake patient identified as Aaron Rice.” The article reported that in 2017, Rice obtained 11,600 thirty-milligram tablets of oxycodone — an average of nearly 225 tablets per week.
Review of the records of the Maine Prescription Monitoring Program showed that Rice issued more than 200 prescriptions for oxycodone and “other controlled substances (over 27,000 pills)” between June 2014 and December 2017 to Aaron Rice.
There were three listed addresses for Aaron Rice, one of which is Dr. Rice’s current contact address with the Board of Licensure.
The other addresses were in Brooksville and Brooklin.
An investigator checked local and national databases and was unable to locate anyone with the name of Aaron Rice with the same date of birth. The same investigator also confirmed that Aaron Rice’s listed Brooksville address does not exist.
Board staff spoke with pharmacists at the Rite Aid in Blue Hill.
“The pharmacists confirmed that Dr. Rice issued numerous prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone for Aaron Rice, and that Dr. Rice personally delivered the prescription and picked up the prescription drugs paying with cash,” according to board documents.
As part of its investigation, the board obtained a transcript of an interview conducted with Dr. Rice March 7 by detectives with the Montgomery County Police Special Investigations Division in Maryland. During the interview, Dr. Rice said Aaron Rice had metastatic prostate cancer and became his patient about five years ago.
According to the transcript, “The treatment consisted of Aaron driving himself to Dr. Rice’s office, at which time Dr. Rice would meet him in the parking lot for an evaluation.”
Dr. Rice told detectives that because the patient had limited mobility, he filled all of the prescriptions for him, both in Maine and Maryland.
All of the prescriptions for pain medication that Dr. Rice wrote for Aaron Rice were written on prescriptions from Dr. Rice’s clinic in Maine, Coastal Family Medicine of Maine.
Dr. Rice told detectives he had no idea where Aaron Rice was staying in Maryland, never went to his home and never obtained identification from him. He also did not have access to Aaron Rice’s medical records.
“Dr. Rice was unable to provide any contact information for Aaron because when Aaron came to Maryland, he gave Dr. Rice a prepaid cell phone and would only communicate with Dr. Rice with that cell phone. After Dr. Rice refused to fill any more pain medication prescriptions for Aaron, Dr. Rice threw the phone away,” according to board documents.
As part of their inquiry, board staff also received “confidential investigative information” from the Maryland Board of Physicians.
On May 15, the board’s medical director sent Dr. Rice a letter to his contact address in Cabin John, Md. A subpoena also was issued in the name of the board directing Dr. Rice to provide the board with medical records for Aaron Rice by June 11. As of June 12, the board had not received the records or any communication from Dr. Rice.
An adjudicatory hearing will be “scheduled shortly,” according to the board’s order suspending Rice’s license.
All board disciplinary actions are reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank and the Federation of State Medical Boards Action Data Bank. These reports are regularly reviewed by every state licensing board in the country.
The board is made up of six physicians, three public members and a physician assistant, all appointed by the governor. Disciplinary actions taken by the board are available to the public either by telephone at (207) 287-3601, or on the board’s website at www.maine.gov/md.