A troubling report surfaced in the Chicago Tribune yesterday of a local psychiatrist submitting fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid. Dr. Michael J. Reinstein of Community Mental Health Services in Uptown is accused of accepting illegal kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies for anti-psychotic medication prescriptions. Specifically targeting nursing home residents, Dr. Reinstein has been under investigation for these suspicions since 2009. Nursing home negligence lawyers at Pintas & Mullins warn of the devastating effects of overmedication. Dangers of such medical malpractice are exponentially increased in cases of the elderly. If you suspect any negligence of this kind, contact our office immediately to discuss you potential claim.
According to the report filed by the U.S. attorney’s office, Dr. Reinstein submitted at least 140,000 false claims regarding these anti-psychotic drugs, and an additional 50,000 claims of pharmacologic management, which were also fraudulent. Dr. Reinstein is responsible for the care and well-being of nursing home residents in over 30 facilities in the Chicagaoland area, making this the largest prescription medication fraud case ever filed against a single individual in Chicago.
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Dr. Reinstein regularly administers drugs such as Clozaril, which is an FDA schedule two controlled substance, and carries a ‘black box’ warning, the most severe for a prescription medication. The overmedication of patients, particularly elderly patients, is not only immoral and illegal, but life-threatening as well. Clozaril is a drug for victims of schizophrenia, and is associated with heart failure and seizures, and requires very strict monitoring, including blood tests every two weeks. Numerous local and international studies report of rapid death from the use of this medication, which Dr. Reinstein administers more often than all top doctors in Texas, North Carolina, and Florida combined.
A graduate of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Reinstein is a Healthgrades Recognized doctor. He has practiced in the Chicago area for nearly forty years, and receives consistent reimbursement from the federal government for servicing an unusually large amount of patients.
Pharmaceutical companies are widely known to compensate doctors who prescribe their products in large amounts. Novartis, the manufacturer of Clozaril, is no exception. Dr. Reinstein is far and away the largest prescriber of Clozaril, which was taken by more than 1,000 of his patients at any given time for many years.
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In July 2003, Novartis ceased manufacturing of Clozaril and consequently their payments to Reinstein. Less than one month later, Dr. Reinstein approached Ivax Pharmaceuticals, who manufacture a generic form of the drug, offering to prescribe their product if they agreed to pay him $50,000 per year (under a ‘consulting aggreement’), paid his nurse to advocate for the drug, and fund a clozapine research study. Ivax agreed to the arrangement, and Reinstein became the largest prescriber of their product in the country. According the Tribune article, Reinstein had 75% of residents prescribed to Ivax’s clozapine at one local nursing home. Reinstein is also a top prescriber of Seroquel and Haldol, two other anti-psychotic medications.
The civil case filed against Dr. Reinstein regards the fraudulent claims made to Medicare and Medicaid, however, not the pharmaceutical company payoffs. The lawsuit is seeking damages under the False Claims Act, in addition to a penalty of $5,500 – $11,000 for each false claim, of which there are at least 190,000.
Dr. Reinstein repeatedtly know knowingly took advantage of thousands of nursing home residents. Overmedicating the elderly is a serious and often fatal danger. Dr. Reinstein did not monitor his patients in a safe or even consistent manner, which is required with prescribing such extreme medications. Clozapine is known to cause deadly decreases in white blood cells, seizures, and inflammation of the heart, side effects which are increased exponentially in the elderly.
If you or a loved one is suffering from wrongful or overmedication, contact a personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation. Medical malpractice, particularly in seniors in nursing homes, is a serious crime. Contact Pintas & Mullins today so we can help you receive the settlement you deserve.