Neurologist From Michigan Under Federal Medicare Fraud Investigation

KOCHVILLE TOWNSHIP, MI – Dr. Gavin Awerbuch, who is a Kochville Township neurologist, is under federal investigation as he is accused of defrauding Medicare to the tune of nearly $7 million.

On Tuesday 6th of May, Dr. Gavin Awerbuch is summoned to federal court in Detroit on charges of health care fraud and distribution of controlled substances.

The case of Awerbuch is under investigation by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service as they believe that he prescribed medication to patients that are not required and billed Medicare and private insurers for tests which were not conducted by him.

A May 2, an affidavit from a federal investigator showed that in a time period of 5 years, Awerbuch collected six times more money from Medicare than the nearest U.S. prescriber of a controlled drug to treat cancer pain.

On 6th of May, an arrest warrant for Awerbuch was issued by the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.

Awerbuch is free on a $10,000 bond and he is summoned in federal court at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, on 27th of May. The conditions of Awerbuch’s bond state are that he cannot prescribe controlled substances, bill Medicare or other federal health care programs and must surrender his concealed pistol license and passport.

Police conducted undercover operations from 2011 to 2013 while investigating the case of the neurologist and it was shown in the 39-page affidavit from Marc Heggemeyer, a special agent for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and Office of Investigations.

From 1st of January 2009 to 6th of February 2014, $6.9 million were paid by the Medicare to Awerbuch for Subsys he prescribed. The other highest amount a U.S. prescriber received was $1.6 million.

The affidavit stated, “Awerbuch is responsible for approximately 20.3 percent of the Subsys prescribed to Medicare beneficiaries nationwide during this time”.

In the time period of 5 years, he wrote 1,283 prescriptions for the drug while the next closest prescriber wrote 203 prescriptions, according to the complaint.

The affidavit shows that Subsys is an opioid which is given to the patient to relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and pain. The Food and Drug Administration needs the drug prescribed through a management program due to the risk for addiction, abuse and overdose. It also shows that Awerbuch collected more than $5 million in the past five years by billing insurers for procedures he did not conduct like nerve conduction studies and needle electromyographies.

From April 2011 to May 2013, undercover Lansing police officers visited Awerbuch 7 times.

According to the affidavit, for those visits, Awerbuch collected $4,973.08 from Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Michigan for procedures and treatments.

According to the police officers who visually recorded treatments, Awerbuch did not sterilize the needle for the needle electromyography treatment or clean down the patient’s leg or foot before starting the treatment, nor did the officers receiving treatment report feeling electric shock during the 2 to 3 minute treatments.

The affidavit shows that a neurologist who specializes in such treatments said Awerbuch could not have conducted the exams due to the reason that they generally take twenty to ninety minutes.

An undercover officer asked for a Vicodin prescription and tried to give $1,000 to Awerbuch for the drug while visiting him. The officer told Awerbuch he will sell the drug to coworkers. Awerbuch refused to take the money and asked the officer not to sell Vidodin again. He also asked if the officer was a Drug Enforcement Administration for FBI agent. The officer replied he was not, and Awerbuch issued him the Vicodin prescription. During another visit, Awerbuch prescribed Subsys to the officer when he was not even suffering from cancer.

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