HARRISBURG – A former Clearfield County doctor has been arrested for allegedly obtaining controlled substances fraudulently from his cancer patients.
Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendant as Amer Khouri, 43, Erie. From October 2000 through February 1, 2007, Dr. Khouri was a specialist in Internal Medicine and Oncology at the Clearfield Hospital and served as the attending physician at the Clearfield Hospital Cancer Center.
According to the criminal complaint, Khouri habitually prescribed doses of Actiq lozenges in varying strengths to patients fighting cancer and recalled the prescriptions citing dosage error.
Actiq is a brand name for Fentanyl and is designed to help manage breakthrough cancer pain in individuals. The drug is available in six strengths: 200 mcg, 400 mcg, 600 mcg, 800mcg, 1200 mcg and 1600 mcg.
Corbett said that in many instances Khouri prescribed the drug to his patients and then contacted them after the prescription was filled saying he had “made a mistake” and prescribed the “wrong strength.”
The charges state that Khouri instructed patients to deliver the drugs to his office by knocking on the back door to his personal office, which helped him, avoid the main doctor’s office lobby and staff.
According to the criminal complaint, once the medication was delivered, Khouri wrote each patient several new prescriptions, which were attached to a coupon. The coupon served as payment to the pharmacy for that prescription.
“Dr. Khouri’s patients were suffering through unimaginable circumstances and legitimately needed these drugs to manage their pain,” Corbett said. “Unfortunately, their doctor took advantage of their illnesses for his own purpose.”
Agents estimate that Khouri illegally obtained thousands of Actiq lozenges from patients.
Corbett said that following his February 2007 dismissal from the Clearfield Hospital, more than $44,000 worth of controlled and non-controlled substances including; Methadone, Provigil, Diazepam, Lomotil, Tarceva, Phenytoin, Prevacid and Emend were found in Khouri’s office.
Corbett noted that some of the drugs were in prescription bottles with patient labels either intact or removed. Many of the drugs had also been repackaged, including 10 tablets found in a Hallmark envelope with the doctor’s name on the front.
Khouri is charged with four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, four counts of prescribing a controlled substance not in good faith and outside the treatment principles accepted by a responsible segment of the medical profession, four counts of possession of a controlled substance, and one count of misbranding a controlled substance.
Corbett thanked the Clearfield County Hospital for their assistance with the investigation.
The case will be prosecuted in Clearfield County by Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section.