Doctor Charged With Prescribing Fentanyl For Bribes

Dr. Mukaram Gazi (File Photo)

OCEAN COUNTY – Police said that a urologist with offices throughout the area received bribes and kickbacks in exchange for prescribing fentanyl.

  Mukaram Gazi, 51, of Marlboro, was charged 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.

  He owned a urology practice with locations in Freehold, Hamilton, Howell, and Toms River. Gazi solicited and received more than $130,000 in bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing its drug Subsys, a fentanyl-based spray. 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.”

  Gazi did not treat patients who were suffering from breakthrough cancer pain and was not in the practice of prescribing fentanyl-based pain medications, police said. However, in exchange for bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics, he began prescribing Subsys to a number of patients for whom Subsys was medically unnecessary.

  These bribes and kickbacks were disguised as payments for educational presentations that police said were a sham. Gazi would be paid to educate other doctors about Subsys but these sessions were really more like social events at restaurants, and some of the sign-in sheets were forged.

  Gazi allegedly prescribed high-dosage Adderall to a pharmacy owner and the owner’s significant other in exchange for the pharmacy filling the Subsys prescriptions.

  Gazi then allegedly submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare, New Jersey Medicaid, and other health insurance providers which were not actually eligible for reimbursement because they were not medically necessary. He also conspired with others to distribute these powerful narcotics outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose.

  A statement from the attorneys representing Gazi was provided to this newspaper:

  “Dr. Gazi vehemently denies the allegations in the government’s indictment as patently false and without any basis in fact and is confident he will be exonerated,” they said. “Dr. Gazi is a highly respected, well-trained board-certified urologist, as well as a uro-oncology surgeon, who adheres to the highest clinical and ethical standards in the treatment of his patients. Contrary to the government’s claims, at no time did Dr. Gazi accept bribes from Insys in return for prescribing any medication to his patients; rather, all treatment he rendered and medications he prescribed to his patients were medically necessary and appropriate and based on his independent medical judgment. In indicting Dr. Gazi, the government opted to overzealously prosecute him based merely on his participation in an industry-standard speaker program from nearly a decade ago that is permitted under both federal law and state law. In essence, despite the ubiquity of pharmaceutical speaker programs and their recognized propriety under the law, the government is attempting to criminalize a physician’s participation in these legally recognized practices. Dr. Gazi intends to vigorously defend against the government’s allegations so as to preserve his ability to continue to deliver excellent patient care.”

  Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig credited special agents and investigators of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; special agents of the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert; special agents the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark; and special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Thomas Mahoney, with the investigation.