St. Louis Doctor Scammed Patients With Cheap Drugs, Bought Ugly Mansion

Abdul and Wajiha Naushad were sentenced today on charges of conspiracy and fraud

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click to enlarge Prosecutors say Abdul and Wajiha Naushad used ill-gotten profits to buy a mansion and fund their lavish lifestyle.
Prosecutors say Abdul and Wajiha Naushad used ill-gotten profits to buy a mansion and fund their lavish lifestyle.

A Town and Country doctor and his wife were sentenced today in federal court after being found guilty of injecting patients with a foreign, non-FDA approved version of a drug to treat arthritis.

In April, a jury found Dr. Abdul Naushad, 58, and his wife Wajiha, 47, guilty of one count of conspiracy and one count of health care fraud. Today, Naushad was sentenced to a year in prison and Wajiha given three years probation.

The drug in question is Orthovisc, the FDA-approved version of which is only sold by authorized distributors in the United States. According to a statement issued by the United States Attorney's Office, for over a decade the Naushads injected patients under their care with a cheaper version of Orthovisc, which was imported from overseas and had not been approved by the FDA.

"Injectable unapproved medical devices that are smuggled from unknown foreign sources and come from outside the secure supply chain can present a serious health risk to patients who receive them," said Charles L. Grinstead, a special agent in charge with the Kansas City field office of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

Grinstead went on to say in a statement that the components of such injectable drugs are "completely unknown," as are the conditions under which they're manufactured.

After injecting patients with the non-FDA regulated drug, the Naushads billed federal health care programs for the more expensive medication, which they hadn't used.

According to the website RxList, Orthovisc is commonly used to treat osteoarthritis in knees.

The statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office says that the Naushads, "concealed their actions from patients, employees and publicly-funded health insurance programs by, among other things, stonewalling questions from their chief of purchasing."

At one point, the FDA intercepted a shipment of the foreign, unapproved version of the drug headed to Naushad's office. In response to this, the Naushads had a future shipment sent to their home.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wiseman said in court that Naushad's elderly and impoverished patients were deceived so that the Naushads could live a "lavish lifestyle," which included buying a mansion.

The U.S. Attorney's Office seems to be referring to a seven-bathroom, four-bedroom house in Town and Country that the Naushads purchased in 2008 for $2.2 million. The home, which has a castle-like aesthetic, includes a basketball half-court and a swimming pool.

In addition to the residence, the Naushads' "lavish lifestyle" included two vacation houses and four luxury cars.

The Naushads will have to repay $235,977 to insurers.



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Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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