On Thursday, the Riverfront Times reported that a doctor from St. Louis, Missouri has been sentenced to prison for a health care fraud scheme in which he bought a "castle-like" mansion with the difference he pocketed from secretly using knockoff osteoarthritis drugs in patients.
"In April, a jury found Dr. Abdul Naushad, 58, and his wife Wajiha, 47, guilty of one count of conspiracy and one count of health care fraud. Today, Naushad was sentenced to a year in prison and Wajiha given three years probation," reported Ryan Krull. "The drug in question is Orthovisc, the FDA-approved version of which is only sold by authorized distributors in the United States. According to a statement issued by the United States Attorney's Office, for over a decade the Naushads injected patients under their care with a cheaper version of Orthovisc, which was imported from overseas and had not been approved by the FDA."
According to the report, during the investigation, the FDA intercepted one of the illegal shipments — at which point the Naushads had a subsequent shipment sent directly to their home, further incriminating themselves.
FDA criminal division Special Agent Charles Grinstead said of the case, "Injectable unapproved medical devices that are smuggled from unknown foreign sources and come from outside the secure supply chain can present a serious health risk to patients who receive them."
"Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman said in court that Naushad's elderly and impoverished patients were deceived so that the Naushads could live a 'lavish lifestyle,' which included buying a mansion," said the report. "The U.S. Attorney's Office seems to be referring to a seven-bathroom, four-bedroom house in Town and Country that the Naushads purchased in 2008 for $2.2 million. The home, which has a castle-like aesthetic, includes a basketball half-court and a swimming pool. In addition to the residence, the Naushads' 'lavish lifestyle' included two vacation houses and four luxury cars."
Doctors have often drawn controversy when they use their position for massive personal gain, even when their activities are not directly illegal; longtime TV talk show host and thoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, for example, now running for Senate in Pennsylvania, was long divisive for making unproven medical claims on his show to endorse various dietary supplements.
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