Physicians, former assemblyman accused of pumping opioids onto black market in NYC

Thirteen people in New York City, including three physicians, face charges for their alleged participation in a fraud scheme that involved illegally billing Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary medical tests and providing patients oxycodone prescriptions for no legitimate medical purpose, according to the New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor's office.

The investigation, which was dubbed "Operation Avalanche," began in 2013 and centered on three medical clinics in Brooklyn. The investigation revealed that beginning in 2012 Lazar Feygin, MD, hired several physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to work at two medical clinics in Brooklyn where they allegedly ordered unnecessary medical tests for patients. The defendants allegedly prescribed patients large quantities of oxycodone to get them to undergo the unnecessary tests.

In 2013, a physician and a physician assistant hired by Dr. Feygin broke off from his practice and formed a separate clinic in Brooklyn. However, the providers and staff at the new clinic allegedly continued engaging in the same type of criminal activity.

From early 2012 through early 2017, the practitioners at the three clinics prescribed more than 6.3 million oxycodone pills and ordered patient procedures that generated more than $24 million in revenue.

According to authorities, the clinics provided oxycodone prescriptions to patients even when they had evidence the patients were likely abusing other narcotic drugs or selling the pills. Dr. Feygin's clinics allegedly enlisted the help of a local lab to try to make these prescriptions appear legitimate.  

Beginning in late 2016, most of the drug urinalyses ordered by Dr. Feygin's clinics were handled by Alec Brook-Krasny, a former New York State assemblyman affiliated with Quality Laboratory Services in Brooklyn. Mr. Brook-Krasny allegedly arranged for laboratory test results to be altered to remove contraindications for opioid prescribing, according to authorities.

Regarding the investigation and the arrests, New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, MD, said, "While thousands of New Yorkers battle opioid addiction each year, these defendants fed the opioid epidemic for their own profit, with no regard for the countless lives they damaged."

The New York City Police Department said last week that opioids have fueled a 50 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the city thus far in 2017.

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