Pharmacist sentenced for fraud, money laundering

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 23, 2017

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ROCHESTER HILLS — A local pharmacist was recently sentenced to 52 months in prison for illegally distributing prescription drugs, as well as health care fraud and money laundering.

Pharmacist Nadeem Iqbal, 56, a resident of Rochester Hills, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland May 4 in the Eastern District of Michigan U.S. District Court in Detroit. Iqbal was the owner of Krauzer’s Pharmacy and Minal Pharmacy, both located in Detroit.

According to federal officials, Iqbal pleaded guilty Nov. 28 to charges in connection with illegal activity, including filling controlled substance prescriptions for runners who presented as many as 25 prescriptions at a time.

Court documents state that Iqbal admitted that he illegally distributed over 222,000 dosage units of controlled substances and fraudulently obtained at least $1.6 million from the federal Medicare program. He also laundered $150,000 during one single transaction, the report states.

“More people die in America every year from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of all other drugs combined,” acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement. “In addition, prescription drug addiction has led to a resurgence in heroin use. Pharmacists who participate in the diversion of prescription drugs to the street market are contributing to this epidemic, and we are focusing our enforcement efforts on stopping them.”

Oxycontin, oxycodone and hydrocodone are controlled substances that may be dispensed by a pharmacist only for a legitimate medical purpose, according to federal officials.

All pharmacists have a responsibility to act in good faith to determine whether a doctor’s prescribing is within the course of legitimate medical practice, officials state. A pharmacist cannot continue to fill controlled substance prescriptions when they have reason to believe that the doctor prescribing the drugs is not doing it legitimately. Powerful and addictive drugs in the opioid class are easily abused, and they can lead to addiction and eventual heroin use.

“Corrupt health care providers only facilitate the serious health consequences that can result from a patient’s inappropriate prescription drug use,” Lamont Pugh, special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “Pharmacists who deviate from their professional obligations in pursuit of individual financial gain will be held accountable. The detection, investigation and prevention of health care fraud involving prescription drugs in federal health care programs is a top priority.”

Iqbal will face state action against his pharmacy license as a result of his convictions and will be barred from participating in the federal Medicare program for at least five years. He also will forfeit $1.4 million in proceeds seized from his investment account. Iqbal and his attorney could not be reached for comment by press time.

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