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Los Angeles Medicare Fraud Analysis: How and when should academics be punished?

A provocative article by author Jon Wiener in the August 7 issue of The Nation magazine raises intriguing questions about Los Angeles Medicare fraud. Specifically, Wiener asks whether academics who indirectly create/perpetuate medical fraud in Southern California and elsewhere should be punished. And if so, how?

Wiener’s editorial concerns recent GlaxoSmithKline healthcare fraud charges. The giant drug maker pled guilty on July 3rd and agreed to pay out approximately $3 billion in connection with promoting antidepressant pharmaceuticals for uses that had not been approved. At the center of the case was a medical journal article that seemed to give Paxil a pass. The article essentially said Paxil was safe and effective for helping children with depression.

The authors who contributed to the article included Dr. David Feinberg, the head of UCLA’s hospital. But a Department of Justice investigation found out that the pharmaceutical company had paid for that journal article – which critics said “dangerously misrepresented dangers and [hid] information indicating that the drug promoted suicidal behavior among teenagers.”

The paper vindicating Paxil was fraudulent, say critics. Furthermore, the medical establishment’s big “thumbs up” to Paxil led to a mass-prescribing of the drug for children, despite contradictory research that suggested that the antidepressant was no better than a placebo in terms of treating depression.

Despite the revelations of compromised research, no academic involved was punished or reprimanded in any way by their universities or by other governing institutions, at least according to Wiener’s reporting.

This editorial raises some interesting questions. Specifically, how and when should academic researchers be held accountable for “cooking their data” or behaving in a scientifically negligent fashion? Just how “indirect” do you have to be involved with something like Southern California insurance fraud, medical fraud, or other Los Angeles white collared crimes to be implicated as a criminal or even just held morally or ethically culpable?

These are deep questions. They may not be totally “academic” either, so to speak. For instance, your level of involvement in a fraud can have profound ramifications for your potential jail sentence and defensive options.

If you merely oversaw Los Angeles identify theft, what might happen to you? What if you only “sort of understood” what you were doing? What if an associate of yours violated laws while under your employ or while otherwise under your aegis?

Slight nuances regarding what you did, what your associates did, and how you documented your services can have profound ramifications for your prison sentence (or lack thereof) as well as for your career and financial future.

The team here at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers in Los Angeles would be happy to talk to you about your Southern California Medicare fraud case to help you plan better and deal more effectively with the array of charges and challenges facing you. Attorney Kraut is a vastly experienced former prosecutor who has a Harvard Law School education and a reputation for dealing efficiently and aggressively with Medicare fraud charges.

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