The Downside of Being Number One

Americans are competitive.  We generally think there’s nothing better than being number one—and not just at NCAA bracket time.

But being number one isn’t always great.  Just ask Dr. Michael Reinstein.  He was the nation’s number one prescriber of the antipsychotic clozapine.  How many prescriptions does it take to be number one?  We don’t know for sure, but we do know that he billed Medicare and Medicaid for more than 140,000 of them.

When you rack up a score that high, people take notice.  What federal investigators noticed was that Dr. R had received nearly $600,000 in kickbacks from makers of clozapine—kickbacks disguised as speaking fees.

The Illinois federal judge wasn’t impressed with Dr. R’s defense: the but-I-really-did-make-the-speeches defense.  So on March 11 she ordered him to hand over the money to the government.

Nor was she impressed with his argument against jail time: the but-I’m-too-old-for-jail plea.  So the 72-year-old will spend nine months in jail followed by a year of parole.

The case is U.S. v. Reinstein, No. 1:15-cr-00044 (N.D. Ill. 2016).

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