Doctor Charged With Falsifying Fen-Phen Claims

Could Receive 260 Years in Prison, Fine of up to $3.25 Million
     By Steve Rensberry
   (RPC) - 12/1/10 - A 77-year-old doctor in Orlando, Florida, named Abdur Razzak Tai has been charged with 13 counts of mail and wire fraud for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims that individuals whom he had tested had suffered heart damage due to the diet drug known as Fen-Phen.
   If convicted, Tai could receive up to a maximum 260 years in prison, a fine of up to $3.25 million, plus three years of supervised release.
   According to the indictment, Tai was asked to review the echocardiograms of more than 1,100 patients in connection with claims they had filed with a trust established by the makers of the diet drug, American Home Products Corporation. The name was later changed to Wyeth.
   United States Attorney Zene David Memeger said in the announcement that they believed Tai had falsely certified that the patients had sustained heart damage, when in fact they had not. The charge also states that Tai had apparently entered into agreement with attorneys representing the alleged victims in the case, for the purpose of determining whether they qualified for compensation.
   Tai is charged with certifying patients that in some cases qualified for settlement benefits of several hundred thousands dollars.
   "For at least one lawyer, Dr. Tai was paid a set fee of $100 for each echocardiogram that he read. In addition, the indictment charges that Tai was to be compensated $1,500 for each claimant who qualified for benefits when that patient’s claim was paid," the announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice says.
   "The indictment charges that Dr. Tai wrote reports and signed certifications attesting that claimants had suffered heart damage on some occasions when he knew that the tests showed that they had not and, on other occasions, when he knew that he had not personally reviewed the test results to determine whether they had suffered heart damage."
   Fen-Phen was composed of a combination of two prescription diet drugs, Pondimin (fenfluramine) and Redux (dexfenfluramine). Wyeth removed both drugs from the market on September 15, 1977, following allegations of negative health consequences and pending lawsuits in both state and federal courts.
   "To resolve that litigation, Wyeth entered into a class action settlement, which established a Trust to pay benefits to persons injured by Fen-Phen with money contributed by Wyeth," the announcement says.
   Investigation into the case was undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Paul Shapiro is the prosecutor.