BOSTON (TIP): An Indian-Origin doctor Rita Luthra was arrested on Thursday, Oct 22, in connection with allegedly accepting free meals and speaker fees from a pharmaceutical company in return for prescribing its osteoporosis drugs, allowing pharmaceutical sales representatives to access patient records and lying to federal investigators.
Luthra has been indicted on one count of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute, one count of wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information and one count of obstructing a criminal health care investigation by lying to federal agents and directing an employee to do the same. From October 2010 through November 2011, Warner Chilcott, a pharmaceutical company based in Rockaway, N.J., allegedly paid Luthra $23,500 to prescribe its osteoporosis drugs, Actonel® and Atelvia®. On 31 occasions, a Warner Chilcott sales representative allegedly brought food to Luthra’s medical office for her and her staff, and paid Luthra $750 to talk with her for 25-30 minutes while she ate. On another occasion, Warner Chilcott paid to cater a barbeque that Luthra hosted at her home for her friends. Warner Chilcott also paid Luthra $250 for speaker training, despite the fact that she never spoke to any other physicians, according to court documents reports WWLP-22News.
It is alleged that Luthra’s prescriptions of Warner Chilcott’s osteoporosis drugs increased during the time that she was paid by the company, and precipitously declined once she was stopped being paid. Luthra also allowed a Warner Chilcott sales representative to access protected health information in her patients’ medical files. She further provided false information to federal agents when interviewed about her relationship with Warner Chilcott, and allegedly directed one of her employees to also lie.
The charge of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute provides a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $25,000. The charge of disclosure of individually identifiable health information provides a sentence of no greater than one year in prison and/or a fine of $50,000 and one year of supervised release. The charge of obstructing a criminal health care investigation provides a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.