Rebecca Haw Allensworth is a professor of law and holds the Tarkington Chair in Teaching Excellence at Vanderbilt University. A former fellow at Harvard Law School, she was also an editor for the Harvard Law Review and previously worked as a research assistant for Professor Elizabeth Warren. A specialist in antitrust law, she is at work on a book about professional licensing boards and self-regulation. (June 2020)


Licensed to Pill

In the field where Dr. Samson Orusa’s clinic used to stand, a sign directing patients to a local Suboxone clinic, Clarksville, Tennessee, July 15, 2020

As the opioid crisis evolved, many states passed laws to deter and punish dangerous prescribing. But medical licensing boards, which have the final say in whether a doctor will be allowed to continue to practice and prescribe, are treating cases of unethical prescribing with a leniency that’s at odds with the scope of the crisis. Even in cases of extreme overprescribing—usually for profit, and sometimes with a known body count from overdoses—board members were unwilling to bring the hammer down on their practitioner colleagues.