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)
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.