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Indian-American doctor gets 9 years for fraud

Washington: A US court has sentenced an Indian-American doctor to nine years in prison after he pleaded guilty in 2016 to illegally dispensing prescription painkillers and defrauding Medicare, the national healthcare programme, the media reported.

Pawankumar Jain, 66, was sentenced by the federal court in Las Cruces, New Mexico on Thursday, the Las Cruces Sun News reported.

In 2016, Jain confessed to operating a “pain management” practice and improperly prescribing narcotics such as methadone, with the knowledge the prescriptions would be submitted to Medicare for payment.

His license to practice medicine was revoked by the New Mexico Medical Board in 2012.

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One of Jain’s patients, identified only as “M.E.B.” in court records, died in 2009 of respiratory depression after taking methadone Jain had prescribed.

“Mary Elizabeth Buchanan was her name. She was patient No. 1,” Desarae Buchanan-Payne, her daughter, said on Friday. “She had children, she had relatives that loved her. And doctor Jain took her from us.”

Buchanan-Payne said her mother was debilitated after a 2004 car crash. Jain began prescribing pain medication in 2006.

Over the next three years, her mother was barely able to function because of the prescribed medication.

Buchanan-Payne said she was “pleasantly surprised” at the outcome of Thursday’s sentencing hearing. “I’m glad the judge made an example of him.”

At the hearing on Thursday, US Attorney John C. Anderson, said: “Doctors who betray our trust and put their own financial gain ahead of the well-being of their patients by prescribing narcotics without medical justification are directly fuelling our nation’s opioid crisis.”