Brampton pharmacist loses licence over alleged $7M fraud scheme

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Sameh Sadek had quite an extravagant lifestyle for a Brampton pharmacist — three GTA properties, including a new mansion, condos in Aruba, a Range Rover and millions in the bank.

According to the Ontario College of Pharmacists, as well as a lawsuit filed by AstraZeneca Canada, there was a reason he was rolling in dough: an allegedly “aggressive scheme to defraud” the drug company of almost $7 million through his MD Health Pharmacy.

This week, the College officially revoked Sadek’s registration as a pharmacist.

“The scale of the fraudulent scheme in which Mr. Sadek engaged is among the largest ever before the Discipline Committee,” wrote chair Chris Aljawhiri.

“Mr. Sadek engaged in an aggressive scheme to defraud AstraZeneca of approximately $6.5 million in an eight-month period, by submitting false claims for prescriptions that were never actually presented to the pharmacy for filling and/or that were never actually dispensed.”

Sadek was ordered to pay a $35,000 fine and $80,000 in costs and issued a letter of reprimand.

“Your conduct is appalling, and unacceptable in the eyes of the public and the profession,” the reprimand read.

“You have demonstrated a serious and persistent disregard for your professional obligations. Your conduct involved significant elements of moral failing and dishonesty. The nature and seriousness of your misconduct casts doubt on your moral fitness and your ability to discharge the duties and obligations the public expects of a member of this College.

But Sadek wasn’t there to receive the penalty — he hightailed it to his native Egypt back in 2018 after AstraZeneca first filed its $7 million lawsuit against him — leaving behind his drug-stocked pharmacy, his homes and his vehicles, the lawsuit alleges.

But first, according to legal documents, he allegedly withdrew at least $3 million to fund his new life in Egypt.

AstraZeneca Canada went to court and was granted an order that froze all of Sadek’s assets still here until the lawsuit could be argued. In February 2019, a judge ordered the pharmacist to pay $7.4 million in compensatory damages.

Sadek and his lawyer didn’t return requests for comment. AstraZeneca Canada also couldn’t be reached.

Between June 1, 2017 and Feb. 20, 2018, the college found Sadek submitted bogus prescriptions for drugs that were never dispensed. According to the AstraZeneca lawsuit, his pharmacy was part of a program where the pharmaceutical company would reimburse the cost difference between the price of a generic drug and the brand name given to the patient.

MD Health Pharmacy’s claims under the program usually amounted to about $8,000 a month, the lawsuit said. That began to change in June 2017: Using real or falsified patient information, the drug store allegedly filed manufactured claims for non-existent prescriptions — primarily for the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel. The first month of the scam was for $100,000, the lawsuit alleges, and the following month for $270,000.

“In August 2017 the conspirators decided to expand it, increasing both the number of prescriptions they had filled and the number of medications that were part of them,” the company alleged.

The pharmacy claimed almost $800,000 in dispensed AstraZeneca drugs that month — but hadn’t purchased any of the named medications, according to the allegations in the lawsuit. Emboldened, the scheme then increased to $3.7 million from September to November 2017, the lawsuit alleges.

In January 2018, the lawsuit claimed Sadek used the ill-gotten proceeds to buy a $2.75 mansion in Mississauga, renovate an existing home and purchase high-end, luxury vehicles. That month, the pharmacy was reimbursed for $1.2 million in bogus scripts, as well as another $1 million in February and $739,000 in March, the claim alleged.

But then the jig was up when the suspicious prescriptions finally triggered an audit and Sadek responded by closing his pharmacy, the lawsuit alleges. AstraZeneca estimated the scheme cost them $7.7 million in reimbursements — but MD Health had purchased only $5,000 worth of the company’s medications.

Meanwhile, Sadek, no longer an Ontario pharmacist, is reportedly enjoying the good life in a luxury home just outside Cairo.

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