Five physicians, of which three are Indian Americans, have been indicted on charges of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and health care fraud, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Dr. Krishan Kumar Aggarwal, 73, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania; Dr. Madhu Aggarwal, 68, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania and Dr. Parth Bharill, 69, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along with Dr. Cherian John, 65, of Coraopolis, Pennsylvania and Dr. Michael Bummer, 38, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania all from employees of Redirections Treatment Advocates, LLC, an opioid addiction treatment practice with offices in Pennsylvania and West Virginia are allegedly accused of working as contractors at various locations, creating and distributing unlawful prescriptions for buprenorphine, known as Subutex and Suboxone, a drug that should be used to treat individuals with addiction.
All five have been charged with conspiracy to unlawfully distribute buprenorphine as well as health care fraud for allegedly causing fraudulent claims to be submitted to Medicare or Medicaid for payments to cover the costs of the unlawfully prescribed buprenorphine.
“Today we are facing the worst drug crisis in American history, with one American dying of a drug overdose every nine minutes. It’s incredible but true that some of our trusted medical professionals have chosen to violate their oaths and exploit this crisis for profit. Last summer, I sent a dozen of our top federal prosecutors to focus solely on the problem of opioid-related health care fraud in places where the epidemic was at its worst-including Western Pennsylvania,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“These cases cut off the supply of drugs and stop fraudsters from exploiting vulnerable people. Our prosecutors began issuing indictments back in October, and today we bring even more charges against those who allegedly defrauded the taxpayer while diverting potentially addictive drugs. I want to thank our dedicated AUSAs Robert Cessar and Sarah Wagner, FBI, DEA, our U.S. Attorneys’ offices, FDA, the HHS and Veterans Affairs Inspectors General, IRS, our Postal Inspectors, and all of our state and local partners for their hard work on these cases,” he added.
“Expanding the legitimate use of medication to treat addiction is a critical part of this Administration’s multi-faceted approach to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities. Yet another vital component is the prosecution of unscrupulous practitioners who abuse their privilege to practice medicine and dispense prescriptions unlawfully. These indictments demonstrate that we remain vigilant in our pursuit of physicians who ignore their oath to do no harm,” stated U.S. Attorney Brady.
“Buprenorphine is used to help people struggling with substance use disorder from heroin and other narcotic pain killers. The allegations in this indictment against these five doctors are deeply troubling, as these doctors distributed this drug not to assist those struggling with addiction, but solely for profit,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division.
If found guilty, each defendant can get up to 10 years in prison and be fined $250,000 for each of the counts.
These indictments represent the latest in a series of charges filed since Attorney General Sessions announced the formation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, a Department of Justice initiative that uses data to target and prosecute individuals that commit opioid-related health care fraud.