The Allegiant Experts team continues to reel from the horrifying mass shootings that have occurred in our nation in recent weeks. Please read our statement on the recent acts of gun violence if you haven’t done so already. While we admit that getting back to business as usual is not easy, it’s our duty to continue to serve our clients to the best of our abilities. Doing so requires a strong focus on eliminating medical fraud.
As readers of our blog are very well aware, the opioid crisis is another tragic occurrence in America. According to the CDC, from 1999–2019, nearly 500,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids. Among the most abused opioids is oxycodone. Usually sold as either Roxicodone or OxyContin, the drug is often used for treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is, however, highly addictive and commonly abused.
Philadelphia pharmacy owner charged with illegally distributing oxycodone.
As reported by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania branch of the United States Department of Justice, 62 year-old Mitchell Spivack has been charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and healthcare fraud. Spivack is both the owner and pharmacist in charge at Verree Pharmacy. It is a long-standing small neighborhood pharmacy in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia.
Spivack is alleged to have worked with co-conspirators to have created quite a reputation for Verree. It became known as an “easy fill” and “no questions asked” pharmacy for oxycodone and other dangerous and addictive opioids. By 2016, Verree was the largest purchaser of oxycodone of all retail pharmacies in Pennsylvania. Spivack and his co-conspirators were known to fill oxycodone prescriptions at wholesale quantities.
The oxycodone prescriptions were not written for legitimate medical purposes.
In addition to altering legitimate prescriptions, Spivack and other Veree employees submitted entirely fraudulent claims to health care benefit programs. The claims were for prescription drugs that were not dispensed. According to the DoJ report, the drugs were designated in patient profiles as “BBDF”: “Bill But Don’t Fill.” Between 2013 and 2019, Spivack and company bilked Medicare and other insurers of over $450,000 through their bogus claims.
If convicted, Spivack faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison. He may also have to pay a $250,000 fine as well as endure three years of supervised release, a special assessment and an order of restitution.
United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced the charges yesterday.
“Pharmacies and pharmacists engage in the deepest violation of the community’s trust when they exploit their access to opioids and other controlled substances and illegally dispense the drugs for their own financial gain,” she is quoted as saying in the DoJ report, “It is even more disturbing when pharmacists take advantage of their position of trust by fraudulently billing Medicare and other federal health care programs for bogus prescription drugs.”
Attorney General Josh Shapiro added the following: “We know that nearly 80% of those who use heroin first started with misusing a prescription opioid. The defendant is charged with filling prescriptions outside of medical standards for the highly addictive drug oxycodone. Diversion of these drugs perpetuates the existing opioid crisis that killed 5,438 Pennsylvanians last year.”
Are you an attorney working on a health care fraud case?
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