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Senator Derides FL for ‘Slap on Wrist’

Florida’s Board of Medicine was far too lenient in the case of “flagrant over-prescriber” Fernando Mendez-Villamil, who received just “a slap on the wrist,” says U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley.

Health News Floridareported Oct. 4 that the board that day agreed to accept a settlement worked out between the Miami psychiatrist’s attorney and prosecutors from the Florida Department of Health.

The settlement called for a reprimand, $15,000 fine, an evaluation for mental and behavioral fitness, for his practice to be assessed for risks, and for him to reimburse the state more than $22,000 in costs.

“It’s hard to see how the state medical board could justify such a weak punishment,” said Grassley in a statement. “This raises concerns that over-prescription will continue to harm patients and taxpayers.”

Grassley had described three over-prescribers in 2009, without naming them, but the Miami Herald named Mendez-Villamil as one of them and wrote in depth about his prescribing practices for children on Medicaid. And yet it took four years for the Department of Health to bring charges against him.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.