You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 31, 2018

The United States files False Claims Act complaint against Charles C. Adams, M.D. and affiliated entities

ATLANTA – The United States has filed a False Claims Act complaint against Charles C. Adams, M.D.; Charles C. Adams, M.D., P.C. d/b/a Full Circle Medical Center and Personal Integrative Medicine PLLC (the “Adams Defendants”).  The lawsuit alleges that the Adams Defendants were responsible for the submission of false claims to Medicare for medically unnecessary chelation therapy.

“When healthcare providers seek to defraud Medicare by billing for medically unnecessary services, they deplete the funds available to patients who are in need of legitimate medical procedures, while also putting their patients potentially at risk,” said U. S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “This complaint should serve as notice to others who consider similar practices that we will vigorously pursue them.”

“Medically unnecessary services waste millions in taxpayer dollars each year and undercut the public’s trust in the medical profession,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General in Atlanta.  “The OIG will continue to work with the Department of Justice to ensure the financial well-being of federal health care programs.”

The United States’ complaint alleges that, between November 2008 and September 2015, Dr. Adams undertook chelation therapy and administered the chelation drug edetate calcium disodium (EDTA) to Medicare beneficiaries who were not suffering from lead poisoning. Chelation therapy is a rarely used treatment that is generally only indicated for individuals suffering from lead poisoning and other forms of heavy metal poisoning.  EDTA, one of the drugs used in chelation therapy, is indicated only for lead poisoning and lead encephalopathy. 

Lead poisoning is diagnosed by determining whether the patient has had recent exposure to lead, and by testing the patient’s blood lead level (BLL).  A symptomatic adult patient should only be chelated if there is a significantly heightened BLL (e.g. in excess of 50 mcg/dL). Dr. Adams chelated patients with no lead detected in their blood, or with only exceedingly low BLLs (e.g., less than 2 mcg/dL).

Additionally, Dr. Adams admitted that he does not treat lead poisoning or any other type of heavy metal poisoning.  Nonetheless, he submitted hundreds of claims for Medicare beneficiaries for his use of EDTA.  Dr. Adams advertised chelation as “alternative” and “integrative” therapy that can be used as an “anti-aging” treatment, and as a way to “improve circulation problems, stimulate bone growth, improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure.” However, Medicare does not cover EDTA chelation therapy for alternative uses such as these.

The United States contends that these chelation treatments are contrary to the standard of care and medically unnecessary. EDTA has a black box warning indicating that it “is capable of producing toxic effects which can be fatal.”  Its adverse side effects include fever, chills, malaise, fatigue, myalgia, arthralgia, hypotension, cardiac rhythm irregularities, acute necrosis of proximal tubules (which may result in fatal nephrosis), nausea, vomiting, hypercalcemia, tremors, headaches, numbness and others.  Inappropriate use of EDTA risks these harms without benefit.

This matter was investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paris Wynn with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and the Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General.

The claims asserted against the defendants are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability. The lawsuit is captioned United States v. Charles C. Adams, M.D., et al., Civil Action No. 4:18-cv-00191-HLM (N.D.Ga. 2018).

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Topic(s): 
False Claims Act
Updated August 31, 2018