Missouri doctor indicted in alleged fentanyl fraud scheme

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a southwest Missouri physician accused of receiving tens of thousands of dollars in kickbacks for prescribing fentanyl spray to hundreds of patients in a $2.4 million medical fraud scheme.

Randall D. Halley, 63, of Nixa, was charged in a 29-count indictment in Springfield.

Halley operated a private medical practice, Ozark Community Hospital-Christian County Clinic in Nixa, from 2004 to June 2019. He also was medical director of medical or residential care facilities in Springfield, Ozark and Marionville.

Halley's attorney, Thomas Carver, of Springfield, said his client disputes the allegations and was confident he would be found not guilty.

“It’s an overreaction by the government as part of pain management prosecutions around the county,” Carver said. “This is a pattern throughout the U.S. and we look forward to proving that (Halley) has done nothing to endanger any human being and has done his best to assist people who have a long history of chronic pain.”

The indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation, which would require Halley to forfeit at least $2.4 million to the government. The indictment says the forfeiture amount included property derived from proceeds Halley and obtained by prescribing large quantities of fentanyl spray.

The indictment alleges Halley wrote more than 355 prescriptions for fentanyl spray from May 2013 through March 2019. During that time, prosecutors say, he was paid $92,225 in kickbacks by pharmaceutical company in Chandler, Arizona, that produced the spray. The product is prescribed for management of “breakthrough pain” in adult cancer patients who are already medicated with a long-acting painkiller. The fentanyl spray is a potent opioid that rapidly enters a patient’s bloodstream after being sprayed under the tongue.

Halley is accused of prescribing the fentanyl spray to patients who didn't have cancer, or breakthrough cancer pain, or did not have insurance coverage for the spray. Prosecutors allege he submitted false claims that patients had cancer or breakthrough cancer pain, and also for patients who had recovered from cancer, were in remission or had pain unrelated to cancer.

Halley also refused patients’ requests to switch from fentanyl spray to another pain relief medication, even when the patients suffered side effects or had little or no pain relief from the spray, according to the indictment.

Halley is charged with receiving kickbacks from the pharmaceutical company from February 2013 to March 2019 as an inducement to prescribe the spray or to increase patients' dosages.

The pharmaceutical company, which was not named in the indictment, paid providers to give educational programs concerning fentanyl spray to other health care providers. The indictment alleges the program was a sham designed to reward providers who prescribed large amounts of fentanyl spray. Halley participated in the speakers' program, according to the indictment, from April 2013 to August 2017, involving about 27 programs throughout Missouri.

Halley also is charged with using someone else's registration to further the distribution of a controlled substance. He would allegedly pre-sign prescriptions so two his employees could conduct the office visits and issue the prescriptions, despite not being legally qualified to do so.

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