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US: Indian doctor faces life term for fraud

April 19, 2014 10:54 IST

A 61-year-old Indian physician has been arrested on health care fraud charges and faces life imprisonment for illegally distributing opioid pain medication that resulted in the deaths of two patients in the US. 

Pawan Kumar Jain of New Mexico was arrested on Friday by the officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI and was produced in federal court.

A federal grand jury returned a 111-count indictment charging Jain with the unlawful dispensing of opioid pain medication and health care fraud charges, Acting US Attorney Damon Martinez said.

The indictment charges Jain with 61 counts of unlawfully dispensing controlled substances and 50 counts of health care fraud.

According to the indictment, Jain allegedly committed the offenses between April 2009 and June 2010 when he was a licensed physician with a neurology subspecialty who operated a pain management medical practice.

Jain’s medical license was suspended in June 2012 and subsequently revoked in December 2012 by the New Mexico Medical Board.

Each of the 61 dispensing charges alleges that Jain unlawfully dispensed prescription painkillers, primarily oxycodone and methadone, to patients outside the usual course of medical practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. 

The maximum penalty for a conviction on each of the 61 charges is 20 years in prison and a million dollar fine.

The health care fraud charges allege that Jain engaged in a scheme to defraud two health care benefit programme Medicare and Medicaid, by submitting claims for payment for prescription medications he had given to patients outside the usual course of medical practice and without any legal medical purpose.

The indictment further alleges that Jain's unlawful dispensing of prescription painkillers and fraudulent conduct resulted in the death of a patient.

Jain dispensed 540 tablets of oxycodone and 405 tablets of methadone to the patient between April and September 2009.

Another patient died because of Jain's unlawful dispensing of prescription painkillers and fraudulent conduct.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison due to these charges.

"By engaging in this illegal and irresponsible behaviour, a medical practitioner violates the trust of those he has a duty to serve, and, most sadly, his actions can result in their death," DEA Special Agent in Charge Joseph Arabit said. 

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