The Department of Justice announced today that an Illinois physician, Dr. Michael J. Reinstein, pleaded guilty to a federal crime for receiving illegal kickbacks and benefits totaling nearly $600,000 from two pharmaceutical companies in exchange for regularly prescribing an anti-psychotic drug — clozapine — to his patients. Reinstein also agreed to pay the United States and the state of Illinois $3.79 million to settle a parallel civil lawsuit alleging that, by prescribing clozapine in exchange for kickbacks, Reinstein caused the submission of false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for the clozapine he prescribed for thousands of elderly and indigent patients in at least 30 Chicago-area nursing homes and other facilities.
“The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that physicians who accept payments from pharmaceutical manufacturers to influence prescribing decisions are held accountable,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “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.”
“Physicians must prescribe medications for their patients solely on the basis of the patients’ best medical interests and not because those decisions were improperly influenced by kickbacks and other financial favors,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois.
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