CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - A Chicago physician will pay the United States and State of Illinois $3.79 million for taking kickbacks from two pharmaceutical companies in exchange for prescribing an anti-psychotic drug to his patients, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.
Michael Reinstein pleaded guilty to federal charges for accepting nearly $600,000 in the kickbacks for prescribing clozapine. The $3.79 million will settle a parallel civil lawsuit claiming the prescriptions of clozapine he wrote to at least 30 Chicago-area nursing homes and other facilities amounted to false claims to Medicaid and Medicare.
“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that physicians who accept payments from pharmaceutical manufacturers to influence prescribing decisions are held accountable,” Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Division Joyce Branda said. “Schemes such as this one undermine the health care system and take advantage of elderly patients who are among the most vulnerable health care recipients.”
Clozapine is rarely prescribed, and is usually a “drug of last resort, particularly for elderly patients,” the DOJ said. The drug has been effective in treating schizophrenia, but it can also cause serious side effects including a deadly decrease in white blood cells, increased mortality in elderly patients and inflammation of the heart muscle, it added.