Physician, pharmacist lose licenses for inappropriate opioid dispensing, Medicare fraud

Three healthcare professionals were sentenced in connection with the illegal distribution of controlled substances and corresponding Medicare reimbursement fraud, the Department of Justice announced Feb. 4.

Between September and December of 2015, James Ferris, MD, Katherine Dossey and Sherry Isbell worked together to dispense opioids including hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl using invalid prescriptions, according to the Department of Justice.

Ms. Isbell was the owner of Physicians at Home and the Mid-Oklahoma Medical Access Clinic, both located in Wellston, Okla. Dr. Ferris was a physician who worked for Physicians at Home and Ms. Dossey was a pharmacist who owned a retail pharmacy in the same building as the clinic.  

The indictment alleges Dr. Ferris gave Ms. Dossey stacks of blank prescription pads he had signed, and Ms. Isbell gave Ms. Dossey access to patient records, both so she could write invalid prescription refills. It also alleges they sought Medicare reimbursement for the invalid prescriptions.

Dr. Ferris pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of fentanyl without a valid prescription and one count of healthcare fraud. He was sentenced to 42 months of probation and agreed to give up his license to practice medicine in Oklahoma. He will not be allowed to apply for a medical license in Oklahoma for three years.

Ms. Dossey pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud and was sentenced to 54 months of probation. She agreed to surrender her Oklahoma pharmacy license and to never reapply. Ms. Isbell pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud and was sentenced to 24 months of  probation.

Dr. Ferris, Ms. Dossey and Ms. Isbell were ordered to pay $53,468i n restitution to CMS and $20,301 to the Oklahoma Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The amount reflects how much Medicare reimbursed for the illegal prescriptions, and the defendants have been ordered to pay the fines jointly.

More articles on opioids:
Former Insys Therapeutics CEO to pay $5M for alleged improper opioid marketing
Florida pharmacy banned from dispensing opioids
McKinsey reaches $573M settlement with 47 states for role in opioid epidemic

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