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Eight Texans indicted in $158 million healthcare fraud scheme involving pricey compound pain medications

Pharmacy operators paid kickbacks to doctors for prescribing, refilling pricey compound pain medications, Department of Justice says.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Eight Texans have been indicted in a massive healthcare fraud scheme involving at least three pharmacies and $158 million in fraudulent claims for pricey compound drugs, the Department of Justice announced.

Jamshid Noryian, Dehshid Nourian, Christopher Rydberg, Ashraf Mofid, Leyla Nourian, Leslie Benson, Michael Taba and Kevin Williams have all been charged with one count conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. Several have also been charged with money laundering.

According to the DOJ, the indictment alleges that from May 2014 until March 2017 Noryian, Nourian, and Rydberg controlled three pharmacies: Ability Pharmacy, Industrial & Family Pharmacy, and Park Row Pharmacy, filing forms so that the pharmacies could receive electronic payments from the Department of Labor-Office of Workers' Compensation for creams used to treat scars, wounds, and pain. Reimbursement rates for these drugs can reach up to $28,000 per container.

[Also: Clinic owner gets 5 years in prison for $70 million Medicare fraud targeting homeless]

A fourth pharmacy, Bandoola Pharmaceutical, was allegedly used to pay kickbacks to doctors for referring OWCP patient prescriptions to the pharmacies, disguising the kickbacks as loans, the DOJ said. Prescription pads were allegedly given to physicians referring prescriptions to Ability. Jamshid Noryian marketed the creams to doctors treating OWCP patients, compelling them send unnecessary prescriptions for the compound medications to the pharmacies in exchange for payments, free rent and other benefits.

[Also: Running list of notable 2017 healthcare frauds]

Jamshid Noryian also allegedly told Ability staff to request refills from doctors when the pharmacy wasn't processing enough prescriptions, and to prescribe pain creams to patients who were already prescribed controlled substance medications. Prescriptions for compound medications were written for all patients regardless of whether they were needed or wanted, according to the DOJ.

Roughly $158 million in false claims were submitted through the Office of Workers' Compensation, and about $82 million was paid out. The fraud charges carry a 10-year maximum federal prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. The government seized more than $50 in assets connected to the fraud scheme as well as a multi-million dollar home on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas, the DOJ said.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn

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