Fighting prescription drug fraud: 2 wins and a delay

The federal government scored big wins against prescription drug fraud last week, while New Jersey pushed back its implementation deadline for providers' use of securer prescription pads.  

Lianna Ovsepian, leader of a $20 million, first-of-its-kind fraud scheme involving fake prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs, was sentenced to eight years in prison, the Department of Justice announced. Ovsepian oversaw a plot to prescribe costly drugs needlessly to patients, who pocketed about $100 each for their complicity. Patients visited pharmacies, picked up drugs and returned them to conspirators. They diverted the drugs through the black market for sale to other pharmacies, though which the drugs were re-billed repeatedly to insurers, the announcement stated.      

Ovsepian's company, Manor Medical Imaging of Glendale, California, generated thousands of fraudulent and unnecessary prescriptions for low-income Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Prescriptions were apparently issued by a doctor who pre-signed blank prescriptions, later filled out by Ovsepian's mother-in-law. Government programs paid more than $9.1 million based on more than 14,000 pharmacy claims involved in the scam, the Department noted. This case was the largest of its kind in southern California defrauding Medicare Part D.

And in Baltimore, two pharmacy technicians pleaded guilty to charges linked to their roles in a scheme robbing Medicare and Medicaid of at least $2.6 million, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Pharmacare employees Vipinkumar and Jigar Patel admitted to billing insurers for prescription refills that weren't requested by pharmacy customers. Federal agents seized prescription medications worth more than $87,000 from a vacant home that had housed Pharmacare staff, the Sun reported. Many of these drugs were billed and dispensed by the Patels.

Finally, New Jersey delayed its deadline for implementation of upgraded prescription blanks that include layers of print-based security features, JD Supra Business Advisor reported. State-licensed healthcare practitioners who prescribe drugs now have until September 20 to start using the new prescription blanks. These were designed to thwart black market painkillers sales enabled by prescription forgery, counterfeiting or alteration, the state's office of attorney general announced.      

For more:
- read the Justice Department announcement
- here's the Baltimore Sun article
- see the JD Supra Business Advisor article
- view the New Jersey Office of Attorney General's announcement