(The Center Square) – Two Missouri doctors were indicted and accused of illegally administering drugs to patients and fraudulently billing Medicare for related psychiatric services.
Drs. Asim Muhammad Ali and Mohd Azfar Malik, both from the St. Louis area, were each indicted on 22 felony counts, according to information from the U.S. attorney’s office in eastern Missouri. Charges include conspiracy to illegally distribute controlled substances and to maintain a drug-involved premises, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 12 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled substance and seven counts of making false statements related to health care matters.
The indictment states Ali, an internal medicine specialist, defrauded Medicare by falsely using Malik’s name and Medicare billing number to charge for health care services, including annual wellness visits. Ali also allegedly illegally administered intravenous ketamine and a nasal spray version of the drug without authorization.
The Drug Enforcement Administration describes Ketamine as a dissociative anesthetic that has some hallucinogenic effects.
“It distorts perceptions of sight and sound and makes the user feel disconnected and not in control,” according to the DEA. “It is an injectable, short-acting anesthetic for use in humans and animals. It is referred to as a ‘dissociative anesthetic’ because it makes patients feel detached from their pain and environment.”
Ali was suspended from participating in the Missouri Medicaid program in December 2020 and was required to report his status to the federal Medicare program, according to the U.S. attorney. The indictment also states he failed to inform Medicare he was providing services to Medicare beneficiaries through Malik’s businesses.
“Our agency is committed to investigating medical providers who undermine our federal health care programs and the well-being of patients by submitting alleged fraudulent claims,” Curt L. Muller, acting special agent in charge with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, said in a statement. “This case serves as a reminder that health care professionals have a duty to bill for services and prescribe controlled substances responsibly.”
Each of the conspiracy charges carry a possible penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine. Illegal distribution of a controlled substance charges carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a $500,000 fine or both.
The penalty for making false statement has a penalty of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 find or both. Maintaining a drug-involved premises has a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and/or a $500,000 fine.