April 27, 2018
If Allegations Against White House Physician Ronny Jackson Are True, His Medical License Should Be Revoked Immediately
Virginia Board of Medicine Should Investigate Trump’s Former VA Pick Over Reports That He Dispensed Dangerous Medications ‘Like Candy’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Virginia Board of Medicine should immediately launch a formal investigation into the medical practice of Dr. Ronny Jackson, who, according to recent media reports, has a history of “casually dispensing” potentially addictive sleep disorder medications, Public Citizen said today.
Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, sent a letter to the board in response to an op-ed published in The New York Times stating that Jackson – White House physician and President Donald Trump’s former nominee to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – allegedly casually dispensed Ambien and Provigil, “both of which are dangerous controlled substances with a potential for addiction,” to people who were not his patients. The White House withdrew Jackson’s nomination Thursday.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, also told CNN that Jackson allegedly distributed prescriptions for those medications “like candy.”
“If true, such conduct would represent unethical and dangerous medical practice and warrant immediate revocation of Dr. Jackson’s Virginia medical license,” Carome wrote to the board.
Ambien is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for short-term treatment of insomnia, and Provigil is approved by the FDA to improve wakefulness in adult patients with sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea or shift work disorder.
“Both drugs are schedule IV controlled substances that have the potential for addiction, physical dependence, and abuse,” Carome wrote.
It is particularly dangerous for doctors to prescribe medications to people who are not their patients and whose medical histories they do not know. The Times op-ed by Dr. Richard Freidman, director of the psychopharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, notes that for people with substance abuse or alcohol problems or serious pulmonary diseases, Ambien can be harmful, and Provigil can raise blood pressure and provoke anxiety. Jackson also would not have known whether any of the people he allegedly casually medicated were taking other medications that might interact adversely with Ambien or Provigil, Freidman noted.
Tester told CNN his committee had received reports alleging that on overseas White House trips, Jackson would “go down the aisle way of the airplane and say, ‘All right, who wants to go to sleep?’ And hand out prescription drugs like they were candy … and put them to sleep and then give them the drugs to wake them back up again.”
The allegations “are serious and appear credible,” Carome wrote, “and if confirmed, demonstrate that he has engaged in unprofessional conduct and is unfit to hold a medical license in the State of Virginia.”