Tompkins County Medical Practice Pays $70,377 to Resolve False Claims Act and Controlled Substance Act Allegations Relating to Opioid and Benzodiazepine Prescriptions
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Dr. Vincent Koh and his wife and office manager, Milly Koh, have agreed to pay $500,000 for violating the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting false claims to Medicare for unapproved chemotherapy drugs, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith. On November 20, 2017, the Kohs pled guilty to receiving and delivering misbranded drugs, a misdemeanor, and are scheduled to be sentenced on March 20, 2018 by United States Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart.
The Kohs own and operate a medical practice, with offices in Poughkeepsie and Glens Falls, New York, that specializes in the treatment of patients suffering from various forms of cancer. From mid-2010 to early 2012, the practice purchased various drugs purporting to contain the same active ingredients as drugs sold in the United States from a Canadian drug distributor who had obtained these drugs from foreign sources. The drugs, some of which contained labeling in foreign languages, were not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as required for them to be distributed in the United States and were therefore not reimbursable by Medicare.
Dr. Koh’s practice purchased the foreign drugs at substantially lower prices than those charged for drugs from legitimate U.S. drug manufacturers and distributors. Dr. Koh administered these drugs to his patients, and caused his staff to submit false claims for the drugs to Medicare.
“Unlike prescription drugs picked up at a pharmacy, chemotherapeutic drugs generally are administered without any opportunity for patients to see the labeling, so cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to this sort of conduct,” said United States Attorney Jaquith. “This settlement reflects our ongoing commitment to safeguarding patients and the federal fisc by ensuring that people do not unknowingly receive and taxpayers do not pay for foreign drugs that the FDA has not approved.”
“Patients deserve the security of knowing that the medication being prescribed to them is unadulterated, safeguarded, and properly manufactured,” said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General’s New York Region (HHS-OIG). “This settlement is another example of HHS-OIG’s commitment to protecting quality of care and the federal health care programs intended for our most vulnerable Americans.”
The investigation and settlement were the result of a coordinated effort among the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, HHS-OIG, FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel, and FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. The United States was represented in the civil investigation by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam J. Katz.