Dr. Jim Gagne photo

Jim Gagne M.D., FASAM
Patient & Practice Information

I'm a physician certified in internal medicine, pain medicine, and addiction medicine.

Who am I and what do I do?

I specialize in treating patients with chronic pain and addiction. I see patients privately 1-1/2 days a week in two locations: Tuesdays in Glendale near Glendale Adventist Medical Center and alternate Fridays in Pasadena on Lake Avenue. I'm also a physician consultant at two addiction treatment facilities: the Canyon at Peace Park in Malibu CA and Harmony Place in Woodland Hills

Office locations

I spend all day Tuesdays in the office of Dr. Chris Charbonnet, a superb interventional pain management specialist. He's right behind Glendale Adventist Medical Center at 1530 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 204, Glendale CA 91206. Validated parking is available in the building's lot.

Beginning on July 1, 2017 I have closed my office hours on Fridays in Pasadena. So now I'll only see patients in the office on Tuesdays.

In 2014, I closed my internal medicine office on Verdugo Blvd. in La Canada. For the next year I shared space with Dr. Hilary Fausett, at 39 Congress Street in Pasadena. Although I left her office in June 2015, a few directories still incorrectly show me at that address.

Recent awards

In recognition of my training and experience in addiction medicine, I was named a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) in 2015. (ASAM website)

Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine
Click here to see large plaque

In 2013 Pasadena Magazine named me one of the top physicians in this community. (I wasn't running for this honor but am delighted that one day it just appeared. View the full-sized plaque.)

Similarly, a few weeks later I was selected as one of America's Top Physicians. This award also just came on its own. Thank you! (View the full-sized plaque)

Click here to see large plaque
What sort of treatment do I provide?

I kid my patients that I have a "disease": I take too long and I'm too thorough! I take the time I think patients need to receive comprehensive care, typically 2-4 times longer than most other physicians spend in a visit. I believe passionately that an adequate visit is essential to arriving at the correct diagnosis and treatment, counseling, and in tailoring treatment to the unique needs of each individual. Many of my patients believe I'm the first physician who has truly listened to them.

For patients with problems with drugs or alcohol, I've been practicing addiction medicine since 1988 and believe this depth of experience provides a considerable head start in your recovery. I will provide a detailed assessment, perform outpatient detox, and refer you to any specialists or other treatments you may need. I prescribe Suboxone, Zubsolv, and other brands of buprenorphine and naloxone for many patients addicted to opiates. As an alternative, I also provide monthly Vivitrol (naltrexone) injections. Vivitrol is useful in opiate addiction and may also be helpful in alcoholism.

Patients with chronic pain require a highly detailed and specific approach to their care. I don't do injections or other procedures but instead try to understand all of the factors that contribute to causing and maintaining your pain. I'm an expert in medication management and helping people with medication use issues. Often the crucial question is why haven't you gotten better? Understanding how you are different from any other patient with chronic pain is critical. I believe I do especially well with patients no one else knows how to treat.

The only downside to spending the time patients need is that it costs more than rushing people out the door. That's why I'm "out of network" for medical insurance. I don't bill insurance directly but will assist you in obtaining the maximum possible reimbursement.

Contact Me

1530 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 204
Glendale CA 91206
(Dr. Chris Charbonnet's office; click for a map)
(818) 790-4300 (voice)
(818) 790-4301 (fax)

To schedule an appointment

Please call weekdays from 9:00 AM to noon, 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, to make an appointment: (818) 790-4300.

Change in Billing

When I was practicing in the office full time, it was hard to earn enough revenue to cover my overhead and still have something left over at the end of the day. Now, in a small, part-time practice there is no simple, affordable way to bill insurance directly, and many of my patients don't use insurance or have found it doesn't pay well anyway. So we do cash plus insurance: everyone pays at the time of service, and we'll provide you with a "superbill" to send to your insurance so you get the maximum insurance reimbursement. Credit cards will work fine.

Medicare patients: This works the same way, with two exceptions. First, Medicare determines the fees you will pay, which are lower than my standard charges. Second, we automatically send statements to Medicare about your encounter, so Medicare and your secondary insurance will reimburse you for most of the cost of your visit.

Workers compensation patients: I've continued to see a few patients under workers compensation insurance. I have not joined any of the workers compensation panels, and the insurance company for new workers compensation patients must agree in writing to pay my usual and customary fees, same as everyone else.

The Prior Authorization Hassle

For many years insurance companies have required prior authorization ("prior auth") for certain expensive, brand-name drugs, especially if a cheaper generic equivalent was available. This didn't come up too often and was usually quick and painless.

That all changed in 2013, as drug companies relentlessly increased their prices. Most brand-name drugs now require prior authorization, even if there's no generic. Many generics need them too. Here's how it works:

First, the pharmacist faxes me a note asking for prior auth, including the patient information, insurance 1-800 number, and the patient's special drug ID number. These numbers are different from the ones on your insurance card. If the information is incorrect, we have to call the pharmacist to get that updated. Without this information we can't get anywhere.

Next, we call the 800 number. Not infrequently the pharmacist gave us the wrong phone number, and we can't get through to anyone. We have to call the pharmacy to get the correct number. Or we call the insurance company, wait on hold, are told they can't help us, and are redirected to another number. Or it's after 2 PM and they're closed.

When we finally do get through, there's often a long wait on hold. Occasionally they won't take the call at all and insist I fill out a lengthy form and fax it. Or they require that we submit labs and progress notes before they will authorize payment.

Usually the clerk can authorize the medication over the phone, but occasionally it must be reviewed by a pharmacist. They'll send me the determination in 1-2 days. The authorization is good for three months, six months, or a year -- how long depends on the insurance company.

The bottom line is that it often takes 20-40 minutes to get a prior auth for each patient, which is worse than before. This is as much time as I spend on a patient visit. It was tolerable when I was doing one or two prior auths a week, but now sometimes it's one or two a day. So now you'll be charged $42 for each prior auth unless we can get it done in a few minutes. (Unfortunately, insurance won't cover this charge.)

Update June 2016: Good news! Drug prices keep skyrocketing, and as a result more insurers are requiring more medication prior auths than ever. Even so, the situation has improved in the past year. First, the online system for prior authorizations has greatly improved, with most of the information already filled in. All I have to do is enter the clinical data, which takes just a few minutes. Also, my receptionist has become expert at getting prior authorizations over the phone. So we now rarely need to charge for this service!

Biography and Practice Information
Health Information Articles and Handouts
Fifteen Minutes of Fame
Extraordinary Maturity
Spirituality in Medicine


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Last updated Wed, Jun 14, 2017

©2011, James Gagné, MD. All rights reserved. Except where otherwise indicated, Dr. Gagne is the sole author of all content.