AKRON – Deepak Raheja, 66, of Hudson, Ohio, and Frank Mazzucco, 44, of Dublin, Ohio, pleaded responsible on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, to their roles in a pharmaceutical kickback conspiracy by which Raheja, a licensed Ohio doctor, wrote prescriptions for a drug to sufferers that didn’t have the situation in trade for cash and different gadgets of worth.
Raheja and Mazzucco each pleaded responsible to 1 depend of conspiracy to solicit, obtain, provide and pay well being care kickbacks earlier than U.S. District Choose Sara Lioi.
In response to court docket paperwork, Raheja was a doctor who specialised in psychiatry and neurology, working towards in Cleveland, Ohio. Mazzucco was employed by Avanir Prescribed drugs as a regional enterprise supervisor tasked with supervising pharmaceutical gross sales representatives within the area the place Raheja practiced.
Avanir Prescribed drugs manufactured Nuedexta, a drug permitted by the FDA solely to deal with pseudobulbar (PBA). PBA is a situation characterised by involuntary, sudden and frequent episodes of uncontrollable laughing and crying.
Court docket paperwork state that between February 2011 and July 2016, Raheja, Mazzucco and different codefendants conspired collectively to extend the variety of prescriptions Raheja and different coconspirators wrote for Nuedexta in trade for the fee of financial kickbacks and different gadgets of worth.
In response to court docket paperwork, Avanir promoted Nuedexta via a speaker’s bureau, by which Avanir representatives engaged docs to discuss and promote Nuedexta to different medical professionals. Typical talking engagements concerned dinner at a high-end restaurant by which the physician made a presentation with a slide deck supplied by Avanir. An Avanir gross sales consultant was liable for inviting attendees and attending the presentation.
Court docket paperwork state that Raheja joined Avanir’s speaker’s bureau in February 2011 and gave roughly 211 talking shows at varied eating places and physician’s workplaces between October 2011 and April 2016. Raheja acquired roughly $1,500 every for these purported shows.
In whole, court docket paperwork state that Raheja acquired roughly $331,550 in funds from Avanir between October 2011 and April 2016. Throughout this time, Raheja wrote roughly 10,088 Nuedexta prescriptions – the very best within the nation.
As a part of the conspiracy, Mazzucco and different codefendants incentivized physicians, together with Raheja, to jot down Nuedexta prescriptions via varied means, corresponding to arranging speaker’s bureau applications, which have been largely social occasions; honoraria funds; the falsification of sign-in sheets from talking engagements to maximise funds and offering meals and drinks to docs and their workplace employees.
Court docket paperwork present that Raheja and the opposite codefendants took steps in return for this stuff of worth, together with writing extra Nuedexta prescriptions; inflicting the submission of billings to Medicare and Medicaid for Nuedexta prescriptions for sufferers that didn’t have PBA; falsely diagnosing sufferers with PBA and recording fictitious signs in affected person data to assist a analysis of PBA.
As a part of the phrases of the plea settlement, defendant Raheja has agreed to a sentence of 30 months in jail, surrendering his medical license, at the very least $1,178,460.40 million in restitution and a nice to be decided.
Raheja is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 3, 2023, and Mazzucco is about to be sentenced on Feb. 15, 2023, earlier than U.S. District Choose Sara Lioi.
This case was investigated by the Cleveland FBI, Well being and Human Companies – Workplace of Inspector Basic (HHS OIG) and the Ohio Legal professional Basic’s Healthcare Fraud Part. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael L. Collyer and Megan R. Miller.