Doctor accused of vastly overprescribing antipsychotic to nursing home residents loses license

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A Chicago psychiatrist has been stripped of his medical license over charges that he received kickbacks and overprescribed antipsychotic drug clozapine to nursing home residents.

An official with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation on Friday signed the order to indefinitely suspend the license of 71-year-old Michael Reinstein, M.D. The revocation will last a minimum of three years, at which time he can apply for reinstatement.

Reinstein at one time was the nation's No. 1 prescriber of clozapine, according to investigative journalism organization ProPublica. In 2012, federal authorities brought a lawsuit against him, charging that he received kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies and submitted “at least 140,000 false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for antipsychotic medications he prescribed for thousands of mentally ill patients in [Chicago] area nursing homes.” The matter is still pending.

In response to a 2009 investigation by ProPublica and The Chicago Tribune, Reinstein defended his use of clozapine to treat patients with schizophrenia. The news organizations pointed out that the FDA has approved the risky drug only as a last resort for schizophrenics, and Reinstein at one point admitted to having 75% of the residents at a 400-bed nursing home on the medication. Three deaths have been linked to clozapine prescribed by Reinstein, according to ProPublica and the Tribune.

In March, Teva Pharmaceuticals and IVAX LLC reached a $27.6 million settlement with the Department of Justice over the alleged kickbacks to Reinstein. IVAX, which makes clozapine, became a Teva subsidiary in 2006.

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