Friday, July 8, 2011

Antidepressant Linked to Cause Autism When Used by Pregnant Women

A recent article from and other news sources indicates that a recent study published in Archives of General Psychiatry, looked at the possible role of maternal antidepressant use before and during pregnancy. Prenatal Children whose mothers take Prozac, Zolft, or similar SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy are twice as likely as other children to have a diagnosis of autism or similar disorder. The study of 298 autistic children in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California system found a two fold increase in risk of the disorder when mothers took antidepressants at some point in the year before giving birth.
The study doesn't prove that the antidepressants actually caused autism, but it shows that genetics is not the sole reason for autism. Environmental issue can cause autism and antidepressants appear to be a common cause. We hope and expect there will be more studies, but we are not surprised of the results.

"The problem with our 'treatment procedures' is that, unlike standard medical practices, we have no way to verify the true cause of the problem or the effectiveness of our 'solutions'. We have gone from hot/cold baths, to lobotomies, to electric shocks, to psychotropic drugs - with no proof of any kind. If other MDs treated a broken arm the way we treat the human brain they would be in court. And so, more and more, that is where we find ourselves." Dr. Thomas Szasz MD, chair of psychiatry, Syracuse University.

Antidepressants Do Not Work to Treat Autism Either

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medications to specifically treat autism, but they have approved three SSRIs sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac) and fluvoxamine (Luvox) to alleviate certain symptoms of the illness. But research indicated that these antidepressants also provide no benefits.
Another study found that the antidepressant citalopram (Celexa) is not any better than a placebo at alleviating autism symptoms. Additionally researchers concluded that studies of other antidepressants revealed the same results.

Besides not working, these antidepressants often cause major side effects, especially in young people. In the citalopram study, one child participant developed severe seizures from taking the drug. Even after being taken off it, the child continued to have seizures. Other children taking it had a hard time sleeping and concentrating. Hard time concentrating is a symptom of autism, so the study shows the so called alleviate is causing the problem.

It must be devasting for a mother to have an autistic child, but what is worse is the potential prescription of an antidepressant is actually causing the life long problem for the child. The responsibility lies heavily on the pharmaceutical companies that produced these drugs Eli Lilly(prozac), Pfizer(zolft), Solvay(Luvox), GlaxoSmithkline(Paxil), Forest Labs(Celexa). There are class action lawsuit currently by, and others

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Psychiatrist Pleads Guilty Role in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, June 30, 2011

WASHINGTON - A Miami-area psychiatrist pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Miami for his part in a fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $200 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, the Department of Justice, FBI and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)announced.

Dr. Alan Gumer, 64, of Tamarac, Fla., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Gumer was charged on Feb. 15, 2011, with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and four counts of health care fraud.

According to court documents, Gumer was a psychiatrist at American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), a Florida corporation headquartered in Miami. ATC purported to operate partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando. A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness.

Gumer admitted that he signed evaluations, notes and other documents in medical files for patients who did not need the treatment for which ATC billed Medicare. Specifically, as a psychiatrist, Gumer knew that the patients attending ATC did not need intensive mental health treatment, and that the treatments offered by ATC were not the type of intensive treatments a PHP should provide. Gumer admitted that he signed these files without examining the patients, or writing and reading the statements he was signing. Gumer also admitted to writing prescriptions for psychiatric medications for patients who did not need them in order to make it appear to Medicare that the patients qualified for PHP treatment. According to court documents, Gumer also referred hundreds of ATC patients to a related company, the American Sleep Institute (ASI), for unnecessary diagnostic sleep disorder testing.

According to court filings, Gumer’s co-defendants and ATC’s owners and operators paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities (ALFs) and halfway houses and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible patients to ATC and ASI. In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks. Throughout the course of the ATC and ASI conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries, who did not qualify for PHP services, to attend treatment programs that were not legitimate PHP programs so that ATC and ASI could bill Medicare for more than $200 million in medically unnecessary services.

According to the plea agreement, Gumer’s participation in the fraud resulted in $19.3 million in fraudulent billing to the Medicare program. Sentencing for Gumer is scheduled for Jan 19, 2012. Gumer faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

ATC, its management company Medlink Professional Management Group Inc., and the owners and lead manager of ATC, Medlink and ASI, were charged with various health care fraud, money laundering and other offenses in a separate superseding indictment unsealed on Feb. 15, 2011. Two of the three owners and the lead manager, as well as both ATC and Medlink, have pleaded guilty and have admitted to the fraudulent scheme and that more than $200 million in billings were submitted to the Medicare program as a part of the scheme. They are scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 14, 2011, by U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King. The trial of the third owner charged in the separate superseding indictment is scheduled to begin on Aug. 15, 2011.

The remaining 17 co-defendants named in the indictment in which Gumer was charged are scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 7, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz.

An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Today’s guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami field office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office.

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Saulino of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,000 defendants that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.