Prescription drug stings bust fraudsters in Florida, Alabama

Federal sting operations have infiltrated drug rings throughout the southern region of the United States. Many combine illegal prescribing practices with Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

In Mobile, Alabama, two pain doctors were indicted for conspiring to illegally distribute Oxycontin, Roxicodone, Opana, Dilaudid, morphine, fentanyl and methadone, according to AL.com. At the same time, John Patrick Couch, M.D., and Xiulu Ruan, M.D., allegedly ordered expensive and unnecessary tests for patients and had unlicensed staff perform services that were billed under each physician's provider identifier number.

The sting, dubbed "Operation Pillution," was part of a multi-state crackdown in southern states including Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, according AL.com. Last July, federal authorities busted prescription drug schemes in five different states. Previously released Medicare data shows that top prescribers of controlled substances are plagued with a troublesome past, including criminal charges or disciplinary actions from state medical boards.

Meanwhile, a South Florida drug ring involving five individuals, including a doctor and a yet-to-be-named individual, operated a fake pharmacy that paid elderly patients to order pricey psychiatric and AIDS medication through Medicare and Medicaid, and then repackaged that medication and sold it to pharmacies in Florida, Georgia, New York and Puerto Rico, according to the the Miami Herald.

As the Herald pointed out, healthcare fraud has been endemic in South Florida for years, particularly among Cuban-born immigrants. The sting operation, which began two years ago, uncovered more than $3.5 in cash and $1 million in jewelry, art and vehicles.

For more:
- here's the AL.com article
- read The Miami Herald article

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