An Illinois psychiatrist had his license suspended for overprescribing a dangerous antipsychotic drug, clozapine, in nursing homes and mental health facilities. This overprescription of clozapine has been linked to three of his patients’ deaths. The doctor was a psychiatric medical director for 13 nursing facilities from a base office in a Chicago strip mall. The state’s medical board took disciplinary action after a four year investigation on the doctor’s prescribing habits and a two year legal fight with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. His license will be suspended for three years.
The psychiatrist has been accused of issuing prescriptions of generic clozapine while receiving $50,000 annually from the drug manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary IVAX from 2003 to 2009, totaling to $350,000 in illegal payments. The doctor was allegedly also receiving other expensive gifts, including free travel to corporate headquarters, a fishing trip, dinners, a boat cruise, and tickets to sporting events. In 2007, the doctor issued more prescriptions for clozapine than any other doctor in Texas.
The drug, clozapine, is known as a risky drug that should be used only as a last resort. The drug can potentially cause seizures, a decrease in white blood cells, inflammation of the heart wall, and increased risk of death in elderly patients. Three of the doctor’s patients died of clozapine intoxication according to their autopsies. A 50-year-old man was found dead with more than five times the toxic level in his blood. The family sued the doctor for negligence and received $85,000 in the settlement. A 27-year-old woman collapsed and died after her dose was increased twice as fast as recommended. She was also being prescribed sedatives despite warnings on the label not to combine the two drugs. A 54-year-old man overdosed on clozapine after the doctor doubled his longtime, stable dose.
A lawsuit filed in 2012 in is still pending in U.S. District Court against the psychiatrist. The lawsuit claims that the doctor submitted approximately 140,000 false Medicare and Medicaid claims and a civil penalty is being sought for each. In March, Teva Pharmaceuticals paid $27.6 million to settle federal and state claims that the company paid the doctor for prescribing the company’s drug.
You should consult a medical professional before making any changes to your medical treatment. The medical malpractice lawyers> at Lopez McHugh are currently investigating incidents of medical malpractice in Philadelphia, New Jersey, and California. If you suffered a significant injury or a loved one died because of incorrect or unsafe prescriptions or other medical malpractice, then then you should contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options. There is no cost or obligation for the initial consultation and your information will be kept confidential.