Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Drug Laws Battle Compassion in Doctor's Trial

You will want to read Vanessa Blum's article in the Sun Sentinel this morning. It is high dram. Starts off like a novel.,0,7069001.story

"With guns drawn, a dozen federal agents stormed a nondescript South Florida office on Feb. 11, 2008, to arrest a drug suspect.The alleged culprit was not a cocaine importer or marijuana grower. He was a state-licensed physician, charged with prescribing medication that caused the death of a man from Palm Beach County."

Was Dr. Ali Shaygan a compassionate doctor looking out for his patients or a drug dealer peddling prescriptions to addicts for easy cash? Jurors will now decide, this case perhaps the epicenter of a national debate over who should set the standards for medical practice and how much responsibility doctors bear when they prescribe potentially deadly drugs.

Since 2003, Blum reports, nearly 400 physicians nationwide have been charged with prescription-related offenses, many under tough federal statutes intended to fight drug trafficking, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. 400? Had no idea it was that many, but the article is a must read.

Meanwhile, in Miami, the Herald is reporting this morning that three more doctors have been arrested and charged with medicaid fraud for having filed hundreds of millions of dollars in false claims for obsolete HIV therapy. South Florida's HIV clinics submitted $2.2 billion in claims for HIV infusion therapy in 2005 -- 22 times the total filed by providers in the rest of the country combined. And you thought we just had a problem with phony lawsuits for car accidents in Dade County.

One of the questions that will not be asked at their trial, which should be, is why was our government still funding through medicaid programs, that taxpayers underwrite, a useless and outmoded treatment modality which doctors had essentially rejected with the advent and administration of retroviral drugs for AIDS patients?

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