Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas recently announced a 17-count indictment of three individuals accused of healthcare fraud, money laundering, and violating the federal anti-kickback statute.
The indictment accuses George and Marene Tompkins, an elderly couple who owned a compounding pharmacy in Houston, of paying illegal kickbacks to Anoop Chaturvedi in exchange for fraudulent prescriptions of compounded medicine. Prosecutors also allege that the Tompkins and Mr. Chaturvedi, who has yet to be apprehended, conspired together to defraud the federal government of over $23 million.
The indictment alleges that the Tompkins paid Mr. Chaturvedi “kickbacks” for writing fraudulent prescriptions, which they then used to bill federal healthcare programs. That means the government has to prove, not only that Mr. Chaturvedi’s prescriptions were fraudulent and that the Tompkins paid him for prescriptions, but that the Tompkins knew the prescriptions were fraudulent when they paid for them and billed the government.
As is common in healthcare fraud cases, the government also charged everyone with being part of a conspiracy. To prove the existence of a conspiracy, the government will have to show that there was an actual agreement between the defendants to break the law.
There is nothing at all illegal about operating a compounding pharmacy. They are legal businesses and provide a valuable service to the community, especially for people who have been prescribed controlled substances specifically tailored to their medical needs.
Unfortunately, the government has recently been very aggressive in pursuing compounding pharmacies because several major heal insurers and PBM’s have been complaining about the costs of drugs obtained through these pharmacies. Of course, the compounding pharmacy doesn’t set the price and only provides drugs that have been lawfully prescribed by a physician.
Our firm is currently involved in a major compounding pharmacy case in Florida which involves allegations of over $600 million in healthcare fraud. In that case, the government similarly alleged that the compounding pharmacy over-charged for drugs, billed for drugs not provided, and engaged in illegal “kickbacks.” We think the government significantly over-charged our client, and we are working towards a successful resolution of that case.
Healthcare fraud cases involving compounding pharmacies can be complex. Our firm has experience representing compounding pharmacies and we understand how the big insurers and PBM’s team up with the government to try and recoup financial loses that these companies should have anticipated and were not the fault of the compounding pharmacy.
If you are a pharmacist or owner of a compounding pharmacy and need a lawyer to help you respond to a federal investigation, give us a call. We can help guide you through the process and lead you towards a successful resolution. We have helped doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in similar cases across the country.