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Pill mill psychiatrist gets prison; must forfeit cash, luxury cars


 

Psychiatrist sentenced to 3 years in prison for running pill mill

A former Florida psychiatrist was sentenced to 3 years in prison for illegally prescribing controlled substances and must forfeit more than $400,000 in cash and nine luxury vehicles, including a 2020 Porsche GT4 and a 2020 Aston Martin.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating Gerald Michael Abraham, 76, after receiving a tip that he was prescribing opioids to patients who did not need the medication. The investigation, which began in October 2019, included 18 visits by undercover patients to Abraham’s cash-only clinic in Naples, Fla. Patients paid $400 per visit, according to court documents.

Even though the undercover patients pretended to have signs of drug abuse, Dr. Abraham still prescribed oxycodone, a strong opioid, on each visit without any physical examination, according to officials. He repeatedly increased the strength of the prescriptions when the patients asked. In one case, he told a patient that the patient’s medical paperwork “shows you are completely normal,” then went ahead to prescribe the oxycodone.

Dr. Abraham also gave Adderall to patients who had no legitimate medical need for the drug. As with the opioid, Dr. Abraham prescribed the frequently abused amphetamine (typically used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) after being asked for it, without performing an examination or asking questions to justify the prescription, according to the undercover law enforcement agents.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Dr. Abraham voluntarily relinquished his license in September pending board action. His license was set to expire in January 2022.

Pennsylvania physician admits to distributing drugs resulting in patient’s death

A Pennsylvania internist pleaded guilty to unlawful prescription of controlled substances, maintaining drug-involved premises, and healthcare fraud, as well as that the death of a patient resulted from the use of the controlled drugs.

When entering his plea, Dr.Kurt Moran, 69, acknowledged that the purpose of his Scranton-based pain management practice was to distribute high doses of opioids not for medical purposes, and that he often prescribed these drugs without examining the patient to verify the illness or condition the patient claimed to have. At times, he even prescribed the drugs without seeing the patient. He admitted that he knew that such practices could result in addiction and even death, according to federal officials.

The healthcare fraud charges resulted from a scheme that took place between 2014 and 2017 in which Dr. Moran received bribes in exchange for prescribing the drug Subsys (sublingual fentanyl), which is approved for use only in cancer patients who suffer from breakthrough pain. Court documents allege that Dr. Moran was paid approximately $140,000 over a 2-year period to prescribe Subsys to patients for whom the drug was not indicated.

In order to conceal the kickbacks and bribes, the company that paid Dr. Moran is alleged to have described the payments as honoraria for educational presentations about the drug. During that period, Dr. Moran prescribed millions of micrograms of the sublingual spray to patients with no cancer diagnosis.

Subsys is manufactured by Insys, a company whose founder and CEO, John Kapoor, was sentenced in 2019 to 5½ years in prison for his role in the bribery scheme involving Dr. Moran and other physicians.

Dr. Moran faces 12 years in prison. The maximum penalty for the crimes is 10 years for each charge. As a part of his plea deal, Dr. Moran agreed to forfeit $134,000. His license to practice medicine was suspended in October 2020 according to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

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