Ludlow Doctor Charged with Illegally Prescribing Opioid to At-Risk Patients
Doctor was Allegedly Prescribing Powerful Painkillers to Patients with Documented Substance Abuse Issues; Fraudulently Billed MassHealth
SPRINGFIELD – A Ludlow physician has been indicted for illegally prescribing opioids to patients for no legitimate medical purpose, some of whom had documented substance abuse issues, and for defrauding the state’s Medicaid program (MassHealth), Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Dr. Fernando Jayma, age 73, a solo practitioner of general medicine in Ludlow, was indicted on Monday by a Hampden County Grand Jury on charges of Illegal Prescribing of Controlled Substances (22 counts), Medicaid False Claims (18 counts), and Larceny over $250 (1 count). He will be arraigned in Hampden Superior Court at a later date.
“We trust physicians to be responsible with their care and treatment of patients,” AG Healey said. “Dr. Jayma allegedly violated that trust by writing medically unnecessary prescriptions for opioids to people with documented substance abuse problems. Our office will continue to combat the opioid epidemic in our state from all angles, including prosecuting those who are prescribing these drugs illegally and recklessly.”
The AG’s Office began an investigation in June 2014 after the matter was referred by MassHealth. In 2013, Dr. Jayma was the second highest MassHealth prescriber of oxycodone.
The investigation revealed that in multiple instances, Dr. Jayma prescribed opioids, including oxycodone, morphine, methadone and fentanyl, to patients for no legitimate medical purpose. Authorities allege that Dr. Jayma prescribed the drugs, which have a high potential for abuse, to some patients despite their documented substance abuse. The illegal prescriptions Dr. Jayma wrote allegedly caused pharmacies to unwittingly falsely bill MassHealth for the medication.
In several instances, urine drug screens indicated that patients were negative for the prescribed opioids but positive for heroin or other non-prescribed opioids, but Dr. Jayma allegedly continued to prescribe opioids to those patients.
Dr. Jayma also allegedly continued to prescribe fentanyl and oxycodone to a patient who in the recent past was determined to have overdosed on fentanyl.
In addition to the claims of illegal prescribing, the AG’s Office alleges that Dr. Jayma arranged for another doctor to see his patients when he was out of the country and directed his office staff to bill MassHealth as if Dr. Jayma was treating those patients.
The Department of Public Health is working with local health officials to ensure that patients of Dr. Jayma are referred for proper care and treatment by other medical professionals.
These charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The administrations of Governor Baker and AG Healey are working closely with the medical community to ensure the development of safer prescribing and patient education practices. While the United States is home to less than 5 percent of the world’s population, its residents consume about 80 percent of the world’s opioid supply. In Massachusetts, 4 out of 5 heroin users begin with prescription drugs.
This case is just one way Attorney General Healey is working to address the growing addiction crisis in Massachusetts. The AG’s Office is looking at a host of other practices, from marketing by pharmaceutical companies, to dispensing by pharmacies, to pill diversion and drug trafficking by criminal entities, to coverage for substance abuse treatment by insurance companies.
AG Healey is also working on solutions, including making the life-saving overdose reversal drug Narcan more affordable and widely available, eliminating barriers to treatment, and supporting prevention and education initiatives across the state. Last week, AG Healey announced with the Department of Public Health that first responders can now purchase naloxone, the generic version of Narcan, at a discounted rate of $20 per unit.
Assistant Attorney General Steven Hoffman, Deputy Division Chief of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Division, and Assistant Attorney General Alexandra Brazier are prosecuting this case, which was investigated by Medicaid Fraud Division Investigators Chris Cecchini and Nan Browne. The Attorney General’s Office would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following: Ludlow Police Department, MassHealth, Hampden County District Attorney’s Office, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, and DEA New England Field Division.