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Health News Florida

Years Later, Health Dept. Files Complaint

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The state Department of Health is moving to discipline Dr. Fernando Mendez-Villamil, a psychiatrist whose unusual prescribing habits have been making headlines in Florida -- even nationwide -- for years.

As John Dorschner of The Miami Herald reported in 2009, Mendez-Villamil became the poster-doctor for overprescribing that year when he was called out by reporters and U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, who was investigating links between physicians and pharmaceutical companies.

A psychiatrist, Mendez-Villamil was said to be writing an average of 150 prescriptions per day, many of them strong antipsychotics for Medicaid patients. Medicaid had been investigating Mendez-Villamil since 2007, and stopped paying him in 2009, according to the Herald story.

Florida separates the regulation of Medicaid from the regulation of health-care professionals, which meant that the Medicaid action had no effect on Mendez-Villamil’s license. He had a “clear/active” record on the Department of Health web site for consumers all this time.

The Health Department complaint involves the care of three patients.