Friday, November 16, 2012

High-Prescribing Chicago Psychiatrist Faces Federal Fraud Suit

As Reported by ProPublica

The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois filed a federal fraud lawsuit today against a Chicago psychiatrist profiled by ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune in 2009 for his voluminous prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to nursing home patients.

In a news release, the government says that Dr. Michael Reinstein “received illegal kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies and submitted at least 140,000 false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for antipsychotic medications he prescribed for thousands of mentally ill patients in area nursing homes.”

ProPublica and the Tribune reported in 2009 that Reinstein prescribed more of the risky antipsychotic clozapine to patients in Illinois’ Medicaid program in 2007 than all of the doctors in the Medicaid programs of Texas, Florida and North Carolina.

The government accuses Reinstein of billing Medicare and Medicaid for managing his patients’ medications, “knowing that he did not engage in substantive evaluations of his patients’ medical and psychiatric conditions to properly manage their medications,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in its release. “Instead, he allegedly prescribed medications to his patients based on his receipt of kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies.

Prosecutors allege that Reinstein’s prescribing decisions were motivated by money and perks from pharmaceutical companies. He allegedly switched patients from one brand of clozapine to another based on money and other enticements he received from a pharmaceutical maker.

Before August 2003, thegovernment alleged, Reinstein prescribed Clozaril, brand name for clozapine made by Novartis, which paid him to promote the drug.

When the drug went off patent in 1998, the lawsuit says, Reinstein resisted attempts to switch his patients to cheaper, generic versions. But when Novartis stopped paying Reinstein in 2003, the lawsuit says, he switched his patients to a generic version made by IVAX Pharamceuticals.

That company had agreed to pay him a consulting fee, pay his nurse to speak on the drug’s behalf and fund a research study at an affiliated institute, according to the lawsuit.

“While generally only four percent of schizophrenia patients who were prescribed antipsychotics received clozapine, during the time Reinstein was allegedly accepting kickbacks from IVAX, more than 50 percent of his patients were prescribed IVAX’s clozapine,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in its news release. “At one nursing home, Reinstein had 75 percent of the 400 residents on IVAX’s clozapine.”

Ivax paid other perks to Reinstein and his associates, including airfare, entertainment expenses, a fishing trip, a boat cruise and a golf outing, the lawsuit says.

In 2006, Reinstein began switching to clozapine made by a different company but moved some patients back when he received additional perks and funds, the lawsuit says.

In an interview, federal prosecutor Eric Pruitt would not comment on whether his office would pursue criminal charges against Reinstein or whether any legal action would be taken against the pharmaceutical companies that allegedly paid the physician kickbacks.

A call left at the office of Reinstein’s attorney was not immediately returned.

The 2009 investigation by ProPublica and the Tribune showed that Reinstein’s high prescribing had serious consequences for his patients. Autopsy and court records showed that by 2009 at least three patients under Reinstein’s care had died of clozapine intoxication. One of them, a 50-year-old man, had five times the toxic level of clozapine in his blood when he died, according to his medical records.

Reporters determined that, based on his Medicaid prescribing alone, Reinstein he would have to work 21 hours a day, seven days a week to see each of his patients for 10 minutes. Research has found that the typical U.S. psychiatrist sees about 35 patients per week; Reinstein was seeing 60 each day, he wrote in an audit report in 2007.

In the 2009 investigation, Reinstein strongly defended his reliance on clozapine, saying the medication is underprescribed and is the most effective in its class for schizophrenic patients.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Big Pharma's Newest Money-Making Scheme: Adult ADHD

Evelyn Pringle has brought us another expose of disease mongering by the psych drug industry. Here's a snippet. Please visit the original post for all of the details

By Evelyn Pringle and Martha Rosenberg

Who belongs to this “untapped” market? Just about anybody.

There is good news and bad news about attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) -- that is, if you’re a drug company. The bad news is the kid market has peaked out with 4.5 million U.S. children now carrying the label. The good news is adult ADHD is an emerging market. In fact, adult ADHD, with symptoms similar to pediatric ADHD such as impulsivity, distractibility and difficulty paying attention, following instructions and meeting deadlines, is the next big thing.

"Immature adult market continues to offer greatest commercial potential," read a 2008 press release to the pharmaceutical industry from the market research agency Datamonitor: "Estimated to be twice the size of the pediatric ADHD population, the highly prevalent, yet largely untapped, adult ADHD population continues to represent an attractive niche to target."
Also seen on Alternet here

Monday, September 10, 2012

10 Mind-Boggling Psychiatric Treatments

As posted on Mental Floss

Nobody ever claimed a visit to the doctor was a pleasant way to pass the time. But if you're timid about diving onto a psychiatrist's couch or paranoid about popping pills, remember: It could be worse. Like getting-a-hole-drilled-into-your-skull worse.
Gems include Insulin-Coma Therapy, Malaria Therapy, Chemically Induced Seizures, and of course, Lobotomy Check out the link for the full article

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, Beverly Hills Psychiatrist Who Treated Anna Nicole Smith, Has License Suspended

As Reported in the Huffington Post

LOS ANGELES -- State medical board officials say a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who treated Anna Nicole Smith has had her license suspended for a criminal conviction involving the Playboy Playmate.

The March 30 decision by the Medical Board of California did not name any patients in the case against Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, but the filing listed the court number of the Smith case.

Eroshevich's license was revoked, but the revocation was stayed.

Instead, Eroshevich's license will be suspended for 90 days and she will be placed on five years of probation by the state licensing agency for wrongly prescribing opiates and other misconduct.

As terms of her probation, the board ordered Eroshevich to take classes on prescribing practices, ethics. She must also undergo psychiatric and medical evaluations. When she returns to practicing medicine, it will be under the supervision of a monitor approved by the state's licensing agency.

Eroshevich was with Smith when the former Playboy Playmate checked into the Florida hotel, where she later died of an accidental overdose.

According to the medical examiner's office in Florida, Eroshevich authorized all 11 prescription medications in the Florida hotel room where Smith was found unresponsive shortly before her death on Feb. 8, 2007.

More than 600 pills – including about 450 muscle relaxants – were missing from prescriptions that were no more than five weeks old.

Eroshevich was initially convicted of two felonies in the drug trial involving the treatment of Smith. One was later thrown out and the other was reduced to a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor is under appeal.

According to the medical board filing, Eroshevich admitted misconduct in signing off on two workers' compensation and disability claims without actually examining the patients.

The examinations were done by Eroshevich's colleague in 2004 and 2006.