A Toronto pharmacist had his license revoked and was fined more than $100,000 after he ran an “aggressive scheme to defraud” AstraZeneca of almost $7 million before allegedly fleeing the country with a portion of the earnings, a disciplinary ruling found.
Between 2017 and 2018, Brampton pharmacist Sameh Sadek, owner of MD Health Pharmacy, submitted falsified prescriptions for drugs that were never dispensed, a ruling by the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) disciplinary committee found.
The pharmacist then used the profits to fund a number of luxury purchases, including a Toronto-area property and a luxury vehicle, a lawsuit filed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice alleges.
In 2018, an audit revealed that Sadek’s pharmacy had allegedly submitted nearly $7.7 million in reimbursements to AstraZeneca, but that only $5,000 worth of the medications had actually been purchased by MD Health.
Sadek then allegedly used millions of dollars obtained through the scheme to flee the country and move to Egypt.
Although Sadek is no longer practicing in Canada, the OCP has officially stripped him of his license. He was also ordered to pay a $35,000 fine and just over $80,500 in costs to the college.
The allegations outlined in AstraZeneca’s lawsuit have not been proven in court. CTV News Toronto has made attempts to contact Sadek for comment but he could not be reached by publication.
MILLIONS IN REIMBURSEMENTS: LAWSUIT
In 2017, Sadek’s pharmacy was offering patients enrollent in a program that allowed them to secure AstraZeneca medications at the cost of generic brands, the lawsuit outlines.
It was this program that Sadek allegedly took advantage of. Within the lawsuit, AstraZeneca alleges Sadek’s monthly claims started to increase significantly in the summer of 2017 – from about $8,000 monthly in June 2017 to $100,000 in August, and $270,000 in September, the lawsuit claims.
In the months ahead, the pharmaceutical company said Sadek was further “emboldened” and allegedly continued to increase the amount he claimed — between August and November, the company says $4.5 million in reimbursements were claimed by the pharmacy.
Within a matter of months, Sadek began to use the funds he’d obtained from the scheme to make a number of luxury purchases, the lawsuit alleges.
In January 2018, Sadek purchased a $2.7 million mansion in Mississauga, Ont., renovated an existing property, and purchased a number of high-end vehicles, the lawsuit outlines, adding that, in the same month, the pharmacy was reimbursed for $1.2 million in claims.
UNPRECEDENTED CASE: OCP
It was an audit that brought Sadek’s scheme to an end, the lawsuit claims.
In total, AstraZeneca claimed the incident cost them approximately $7.7 million with Sadek filing nearly 8,000 claims, but that MD Health had only purchased about $5,000 worth of the pharmaceutical company’s medications.
Chris Aljawhiri, chair of the Ontario College of Pharmacists, wrote in his ruling that the scale of Sadek’s scheme was “among the largest ever before the discipline committee.”
The lawsuit alleges Sadek closed his pharmacy upon being caught, but not before he allegedly withdrew at least $3 million in funds that would be put towards an inter-continental move to Egypt.
Until AstraZeneca’s lawsuit can be heard, the court has granted an order freezing all of Sadek’s Canadian assets. In February 2019, a judge ordered the pharmacist to pay $7.4 million in compensatory damages.
In addition to AztraZeneca’s allegations, Sadek was also facing a number of professional misconduct allegations from the OCP after he was found to have maintained the standards of practice of the profession and engaged in “disgraceful, dishonorable, and unprofessional conduct.”
In a letter of reprimand, the Ontario College of Pharmacists called Sadek’s conduct “appalling and unacceptable.”
“You have demonstrated a serious and persistent disregard for your professional obligations,” the letter reads.
The College argued that Sadek ought to have known his conduct was unacceptable, and, therefore, “there is no justifiable reason why [he] engaged in such reprehensible behaviour.”
“You have brought shame to yourself, and to the profession of pharmacy,” it reads.
CTV News Toronto reached out to AstraZeneca for further comment but did not receive a response by publication.
This article was originally sourced from www.ctvnews.ca