Feds: LA OxyContin ring used Medicare

Oct. 13, 2011 at 4:37 PM

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Two doctors were among 14 defendants named in an indictment targeting a Los Angeles ring that allegedly peddled prescription OxyContin obtained from Medicare.

The group allegedly tapped into Medicare's Part D drug program for a supply of more than 1 million OxyContin pills that were sold on the street for $23-$27 apiece.

"The organization not only flooded the streets of Los Angeles with an extremely dangerous narcotic, it also bilked a government-run program designed to help the poor and elderly," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte said in a written statement.

Birotte said the defendants were based at a downtown Los Angeles clinic that allegedly used a cadre of "cappers" to recruit individuals who were given OxyContin prescriptions.

The ring, which also billed Medicare and California's Medical system for more than $6 million for examinations and procedures, allegedly wrote nearly 11,000 OxyContin prescriptions billed to Medicare in an 18-month period.

The two alleged ringleaders who operated the clinic, Mike Mikaelian and Anjelika Sanamian, were arrested this week by a federal, state and local task force. Also charged were Drs. Eleanore Santiago and Morris Halfon, and the owner of a chain of drug stores where many of the allegedly bogus prescriptions were filled.

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