Dr. Howard Silcoff and Dryden Family Medical Practice, PLLC have agreed to pay $70,377 to settle allegations that they prescribed controlled substances for non-legitimate medical purposes, causing false claims to be submitted to the Medicare program. This agreement resolves the allegations that Dr. Silcoff prescribed an excessive amount of morphine pills and diazepam, also known as valium, to a single patient for over a decade.
Under the Controlled Substances Act and analogous New York State law, controlled substances may only be prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose, and the dosage must be regulated to that which is ordinarily recognized by the medical profession. The prescription must also be medically necessary and comply with federal and state law for the cost of a prescription to be reimbursable by Medicare.
Dr. Silcoff admitted to prescribing an average of 35 morphine pills per day to a single patient for more than a decade. He also prescribed diazepam simultaneously to the same patient, which belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Despite being advised by the patient’s Medicare prescription drug carrier that these medications were potentially harmful, Dr. Silcoff made no changes to the prescription regimen for 17 months.
Beginning in October 2017, Dr. Silcoff ordered drug urinalysis screens for the patient, which revealed that the patient was using cocaine and unprescribed oxycodone and was inconsistently taking the diazepam. Dr. Silcoff ultimately initiated the patient on buprenorphine for opioid dependence, pain, and withdrawal symptoms.
The settlement resolves allegations that the morphine prescriptions were excessive and dangerous to both the patient and the public, especially considering concurrent use of diazepam, un-prescribed oxycodone, and cocaine. The U.S. further contends that a portion of the diazepam prescriptions had no legitimate medical purpose.
The $70,377 payment constitutes damages sustained by Medicare when it reimbursed for the prescriptions, and civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act. The case was investigated by the HHS-OIG and DEA Syracuse District Office’s Diversion Group, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Moran representing the U.S. in the matter.
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