By Cleve Bryan

BORDENTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — A Burlington County doctor is charged in the fight against the opioid crisis. Prosecutors say Morris “Moishe” Starkman prescribed more than one million doses of highly addictive pills.

Authorities say Starkman is being treated exactly the same as a street drug deal and ethically, most would argue his alleged actions are worse.

(Credit: CBS3)

Like all doctors, Starkman took an oath to heal and not to harm, which is exactly what authorities say he did to people he wanted to keep addicted to opioids.

Replacing his white physician coat with an orange jumpsuit, authorities arrested Starkman, a former Bordentown doctor, on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Investigators say Starkman allegedly prescribed nearly 1.5 million doses of opioids illegally.

“I guess what he realized is that if you get your patients addicted, they’ll keep coming back,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said.

Coffina says insurance companies flagged Starkman first for overcharging and then for overprescribing oxycodone, fentanyl and other opioids between 2015-2018.

They say several patients got scripts for more than 700 opioid pills a month and one unnamed patient with a known addiction issue died of an overdose within two months of his last doctor’s visit.

“I mean that just underscores just how callous the doctor was in terms of how he handled patients,” Coffina said.

The Division of Consumer Affairs suspended then revoked Starkman’s license last year.

His office on Route 130 called Bordentown Family Practice has been closed for a while.

Starkman was released from jail pending trial. If convicted on all eight counts of illegally distributing a controlled substance and six counts of health care and insurance fraud, Starkman could face more than 80 years in prison.

“I mean we’re in the middle of a devastating drug use epidemic and at the root of it in many cases begin with prescription drugs,” Coffina said. “Doctors who indiscriminately prescribe drugs like he has done have to be answerable just as any other drug dealer.”