It is a beautiful day. That is unless you are looking at it through the bars of federal prison, like the guy who compounded his life by compounding pain creams.
George Tompkins is his name, a pharmacist who fancied himself the “compound king.” He, together with his wife, ran a pharmacy in Houston, Texas.
Somehow, the Tompkins got involved in a compound pain medication scam in which the government alleged that $21 million of illegal (i.e., fraudulent) billing was submitted to and paid by the federal government. They were indicted.
George was found guilty at trial and was sentenced to what is effectively a life sentence for a 75-year-old, ten years in prison.
Ms. Tompkins, George’s wife, either had a better lawyer or was slightly less culpable — she received a minor sentence when she plead out long before her husband went to trial.
A third individual, Anoop Chaturvedi, a U.S. resident from India, was also indicted. He is now a fugitive and the FBI is on his trail.
Although there is a big dose of Schadenfreude involved in the story, that is not what I am trying to get across to you.
Instead, if you are a physician, and there is almost always a physician involved in these scams. You have to be extremely wary because these deals almost always end poorly for the physicians, as well as for the pharmacists, and for those who are usually at the center of this, the marketers.
Turning the usual physician-patient relationship on its head, compound medication schemes center around marketers who make phone calls and run scammy websites to lure in federal healthcare program patients. Once in the queue, patients are then transferred by phone bank operators to “on-call” physicians who write prescriptions (generally never seen by the patients) for patients with whom they have had no prior contact.
Thus the patients were never “real” in the sense that the drugs were “sold” to them via a patina of physician involvement.
Additionally, pain cream or other compounded medication scams rarely involve what are legally “compounded” medications. Instead, they usually involve illegally manufactured drugs: drug combinations that are manufactured in bulk, not actually compounded on a patient-by-patient basis.
And, for the physicians involved, the schemes are replete with unlicensed practice of medicine issues (just where do those patients live and where are you licensed?). Of course, other elements of the scheme, such as prescribing for “patients” who might not actually be patients in the view of your state’s medical board, add other licensing violations into the mix. How do physicians get lured into these schemes? In my experience (and I have seen this multiple times) it is because they are going to make a boatload of money for little work, the greed factor.
Don’t fall for it.
Invariably these schemes are crimes. Ten years in jail is nothing to sniff at. Invariably they lead to professional discipline, too.
Don’t believe what the perpetrators will tell you, which is that they’ve checked it out with their lawyers (even a large firm) who’ve told them that it’s fine.
Get your own representation because you are going to need it sooner or later. That is, either now, before you get involved, or later, when you are indicted.
Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.
Mark F. Weiss