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Virginia doctor hit with $472,000 penalty, loses license after admitting to illegally prescribing Ritalin, hydrocodone

Gurcharan Singh Kanwal admitted wrongdoing after caught prescribing meds illegally to undercover agent, the DOJ says.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Credit: <a href="">Octavio L</a>.Credit: Octavio L.

A Coeburn, Virginia doctor pleaded guilty Friday to healthcare fraud and drug distribution charges after prescribing Ritalin and hydrocodone to an undercover investigator that had no "legitimate medical purpose," the Department of Justice announced.

Gurcharan Singh Kanwal, 78, pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of distributing Ritalin and hydrocodone. His plea agreement stipulates he must surrender his medical license and never reapply. He must also pay $472,500 in restitution to the Virginia Medicaid program.

[Also: Running list of notable 2017 healthcare frauds]

Citing evidence presented at his plea hearing, the DOJ said between Sept. 19, 2016 and February 22, 2017 Kanwal knowingly distributed Ritalin and hydrocodone that had no real medical purpose to an undercover investigator.

Kanwal also fraudulently billed Virginia Medicaid for services provided to the investigator, which were not medically necessary or not actually received, the DOJ said. 

An investigation into Kanwal and the Coeburn Medical Clinic got underway following complaints that controlled substances were being diverted by Kanwal's employees and patients. Agents told authorities it was also believed that Kanwal was prescribing controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose and outside the course of his professional practice. An undercover investigator visited Kanwal's office as a patient and obtained prescriptions from Kanwal for Ritalin and hydrocodone that had no genuine medical purpose and were "beyond the bounds of medical practice."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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