Doc Launders $$ Via UFC? 3 Sisters, 1,200 Opioids; Ob/Gyn Accused of Sex Crime

This post originally appeared on MedPage Today: Pain Management.

This weekly roundup features arrests, criminal proceedings, and other reports alleging improper or questionable conduct by healthcare professionals.

Michigan’s top oxycodone prescriber 2 years in a row (2016/2017) faces new fraud and money laundering charges that involved paying prominent Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters to promote his diet plan (the “next Atkins”), according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Going back to 2008, Francisco Patino, MD, is accused of prescribing more than 2.2 million oxycodone doses at his various pain clinics and submitting patients to unnecessary back injections to defraud Medicare of more than $120 million. Moreover, the physician allegedly laundered the earnings by paying a ghostwriter to author The Age of Globesity, a book that promoted his diet plan, and paying UFC fighters to say they followed the “Patino diet.”

A Tennessee psychiatrist was found guilty of unlawful opioid prescribing after he doled out 1,200 pills to three sisters for no medical purpose over a 3-year period. The DOJ presented evidence that 83-year-old Richard Farmer, MD, kept few patient files on the three sisters and failed to recognize their addiction, even providing pills before, during, and after one of the women’s pregnancies. DOJ further alleged ongoing sexual relations with the sisters, and one federal official likened Farmer to a “street corner” drug dealer. (Washington Post)

In Georgia, an ob/gyn who ran a cosmetic surgery practice has surrendered his license and was indicted on 58 counts of unauthorized hydrocodone distribution. CBS46 revealed that multiple patient complaints were reported to the state medical board over the last decade, accusing the physician of malpractice, gross negligence, and fraud. And one former patient filed a police report alleging the physician sexually assaulted her while under sedation. Due to the voluntary nature of his license surrender, the complaints against the ob/gyn were not made public by the state medical board. (Henry Herald, CBS46)

Facing charges related to tax evasion and violation of the anti-kickback statute, the owner of a pharmacy-chain operating in New Jersey and New York pleaded guilty to his role in an eight-person fraud scheme that led to $5.8 million in unpaid taxes, the DOJ announced. The owner, lead pharmacist, and other employees of Prime Aid Pharmacies allegedly bribed physicians with expensive meals, designer bags, or direct payments to steer prescriptions to their “specialty” pharmacy. The owner ultimately diverted $33.9 million worth of income to a secret bank account, which he never disclosed on tax returns, according to documents filed in the case.

Catherine Pugh, the former mayor of Baltimore, was sentenced to 3 years in prison for conspiring to commit fraud and tax evasion, the Baltimore Sun reports. Pugh was caught funneling profits from a $500,000 no-bid deal she made for copies of her “sloppily self-published” children’s book with the University of Maryland Medical System (where she sat on the board of directors). Her book-sale schemes — in some cases double-sold or never even printed — earned her more than $850,000, all told.

This post originally appeared on MedPage Today: Pain Management.