Hydrocodone is an opioid that is used to treat cases of prolonged and severe pain. It is generally prescribed as a last measure when others have proven ineffective. Taken orally, hydrocodone is sold under the brand name, Hysingla and can also be used as a cough suppressant. Common side effects include dizziness, sleepiness, nausea and constipation but it can also produce more serious side effects such low blood pressure, seizures and respiratory depression.

In addition, as you may have guessed, hydrocodone can be very addictive. As mentioned, it is, after all, an opioid and we’re all very well aware of our nation’s current opioid crisis. The Allegiant Experts Blog has analyzed many a story in this department over the past several months. And that theme continues this week thanks to Venkat Aachi who was sentenced to two years in prison for unlawfully distributing hydrocodone.

Aachi illegally distributed hydrocodone.

As reported by the Northern District of California branch of the United States Department of Justice earlier this week, the 52 year-old South Bay, California doctor was distributing the opioid outside the scope of his professional practice and without a legitimate medical need. He was also guilty of committing health care fraud.

According to the DoJ report, Aachi pleaded guilty to the charges in March of this year. He admitted that between September 18, 2017 and July 2, 2018, he wrote unlawful hydrocodone-acetaminophen prescriptions while operating his pain clinic in San Jose. During this time, he maintained a DEA registration number authorizing him to prescribe controlled substances. 

The plea agreement describes Aachi’s illegal actions.

“In November of 2017, he wrote a prescription enabling a patient to receive 90 hydrocodone-acetaminophen pills,” reports the DoJ, “Aachi did not conduct a physical examination of the patient nor discuss the patient’s pain or response to prior medication.  Aachi acknowledged that he knew the prescriptions were not for a legitimate medical purpose and that he did not write the prescriptions in the usual course of his professional practice.” 

In addition, Aachi admitted that on July 2, 2018, he submitted a false and fraudulent claim for payment for healthcare benefits, items and services to an insurance company with the intent of defrauding it.

In one year, Aachi wrote no less than 5,992 prescriptions for controlled substances.

According to government filings in connection with Aachi’s sentencing, the majority of these prescriptions were for narcotics. During the time when he was committing these illegal acts, four undercover law enforcement agents posed as new patients. “Each of them visited Aachi about four times each, and after each visit, they received a prescription for a schedule II controlled substance with little to no physical examination,” details the report.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Chris Nielsen was among those who made the announcement about Aachi’s sentencing this past Monday. “Dr. Venkat Aachi went from doctor to drug dealer when he prescribed highly addictive painkillers without a physical examination or legitimate medical need,” he is quoted as saying, “Regardless of title or degree, no one is above the law.” 

Are you an attorney who is currently trying a health care fraud case?

Please don’t hesitate to contact Allegiant Experts to find out how our clinical expertise may help your case. Give us a call at 407-217-5831 or email us at info@allegiantexperts.com.