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RISK MANAGEMENT

Massachusetts doctor indicted in Anti-Kickback case

A Massachusetts gynecologist was arrested in connection with allegedly accepting free meals and speaker fees from a pharmaceutical company in return for prescribing its osteoporosis drugs, allowing pharmaceutical sales representatives to access patient records, and lying to federal investigators.

The physician was indicted on one count of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute, one count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information, and one count of obstructing a criminal health care investigation by lying to federal agents and directing an employee to do the same. The indictment also seeks $23,500 in criminal forfeiture.

According to court documents, a pharmaceutical company allegedly paid the physician $23,500 to prescribe its osteoporosis drugs. On 31 occasions, a pharmaceutical sales representative allegedly brought food to the physician’s medical office for her and her staff, and paid the physician $750 to talk with her for 25-30 minutes while she ate. 

On another occasion, the pharmaceutical company paid to cater a barbecue that the doctor hosted at her home for her friends. The pharmaceutical company also paid the physician $250 for speaker training, despite the fact that she never spoke to any other physicians. 

It is alleged that the doctor’s prescriptions of the pharmaceutical company’s osteoporosis drugs increased during the time that she was paid by the company, and precipitously declined once she stopped being paid.  The physician also allowed a pharmaceutical company sales representative to access protected health information in her patients’ medical files. She further provided false information to federal agents when interviewed about her relationship with the company, and allegedly directed one of her employees to also lie.

The charge of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute provides a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $25,000. The charge of disclosure of individually identifiable health information provides a sentence of no greater than one year in prison and/or a fine of $50,000 and one year of supervised release. The charge of obstructing a criminal health care investigation provides a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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