A Monmouth County, New Jersey, doctor was charged Friday for his participation in a scheme to receive bribes and kickbacks from a pharmaceutical company in exchange for unlawfully prescribing large volumes of a powerful fentanyl narcotic.
Mukaram Gazi, 51, of Marlboro, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks; one count of receiving kickbacks; one count of health care fraud; and one count of conspiring to unlawfully distribute dangerous narcotics.
According to the indictment, Gazi owned and maintained a urology practice with locations in Freehold, Hamilton, Howell, and Toms River, New Jersey.
Gazi earned recognition as one of America’s top urologists by Consumers’ Research Council of America, US News and World Report and Castle Connolly Medical, Ltd., and as a repeat New Jersey Monthly Top Doctor 2011-2020.
Gazi solicited and received more than $130,000 in bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company based in Arizona, in exchange for prescribing its drug Subsys, a powerful opioid narcotic designed to rapidly enter a patient’s bloodstream upon being sprayed under the tongue.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Subsys solely for the “management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are already receiving and who are tolerant to around-the-clock therapy for their underlying persistent cancer pain.”
U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said Gazi did not treat patients who were suffering from breakthrough cancer pain and was not in the practice of prescribing fentanyl-based pain medications, but in exchange for bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics, he began prescribing Subsys to a number of patients for whom the drug was medically unnecessary.
The bribes and kickbacks Gazi accepted for prescribing Subsys were disguised as payments for educational presentations regarding Subsys that Gazi purportedly provided to licensed practitioners.
In reality, these presentations were a sham – they often functioned as social events at restaurants, lacked the appropriate audience of licensed practitioners who could prescribe Subsys, and many of the purported signatures on the speaker program sign-in sheets were forged.
Gazi also prescribed high-dosage Adderall to a pharmacy owner who filled many of his Subsys prescriptions, as well as the pharmacy owner’s significant other, to induce the pharmacy owner to continue filling his Subsys prescriptions.
Gazi also caused the submission of fraudulent claims to Medicare, New Jersey Medicaid, and other health insurance providers for the prescriptions of Subsys and Adderall that he wrote, which were induced through kickbacks, medically unnecessary, and not eligible for reimbursement. He also conspired with others to distribute these powerful narcotics outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.
In May 2019, the founder of Insys Therapeutics, John Kapoor, of Phoenix, Ariz., was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering conspiracy along with four other Insys executives in federal court in Boston for orchestrating a scheme to bribe practitioners to prescribe Subsys, a fentanyl-based pain medication, often when medically unnecessary.
The government recommended a sentence of 15 years in prison but Kapoor was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs to 66 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay forfeiture and restitution to be determined at a later date.