After conducting a wide-ranging and devastating fraud scheme, six Michigan doctors were indicted Thursday for their involvement in driving the nation’s opioid crisis by prescribing more than 13 million doses of the pain meds and pilfering nearly $500 million from Medicare and Medicaid.
“The damage that opioid distribution has done to our community and to the United States as a whole has been devastating,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement Thursday to The Detroit News reports. “Healthcare professionals who prey on patients who are addicted to opioids in order to line their pockets is particularly egregious.”
The doctors charged are: Dr. Rajendra Bothra, Dr. Eric Backos, Dr. Ganiu Edu, Dr. David Lewis, Dr. Christopher Russo, and Dr. Ronald Kufner.
The fraud scheme is one of the largest in Michigan history, and one of the largest nationwide, according to reports and involves three medical pain clinics.
The clinics were owned by Bothra, a respected surgeon who was reportedly presented with the highest civilian honor to be given in India, known as the Padmashri, in 1999.
But prosecutors allege Bothra’s ran a sinister operation working that “sought to bill insurance companies for the maximum number of services and procedures possible with no regard to the patients’ needs.”
The doctors who are charged worked with Bothra at his clinics and reportedly lured patients to his facility so that they could prescribe opioids, the indictment outlines. Patients were forced to undergo unnecessary treatments that involved injections, according to the government.
The six men are schedule to be arraigned in a 56-count indictment sometime today for health-care fraud conspiracy, a 10-year felony, multiple counts of aiding and abetting health-care fraud and drug crimes.
In addition, the doctors also are charged with prescribing 13,217,987 doses of opioids, including OxyContin, Vicodin, hydrocodone and Percocet, the government alleges.
“Physicians who engage in the illegal and negligent prescribing of controlled substance in order to unjustly enrich themselves of taxpayer dollars will be held accountable” said Lamont Pugh III, special agent in charge, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General.