Jacksonville physician took kickbacks for writing hundreds of prescriptions

Prosecutor: TRICARE billed $4.4 million for creams 'not medically necessary'

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 59-year-old Jacksonville doctor pleaded guilty Thursday to theft of government property for receiving kickbacks for prescribing an expensive cream to hundreds of patients enrolled in a federal health care benefit program, according to U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez.

According to the plea agreement, Felmor Agatep, wrote prescriptions for compound creams to treat scars and pain, among other things. These creams, which were prescribed largely to TRICARE beneficiaries, cost on average more than $16,000 per cream for a one-month supply.

Beginning in late 2014, Agatep, was recruited by an individual associated with a marketing group in Jacksonville that recruited largely TRICARE beneficiaries as patients and promoted compounded creams for various pharmacies. Agatep was paid $100 per patient to write prescriptions for compound creams that were filled and billed to TRICARE.

Court records show Agatep wrote 268 prescriptions for compound cream medications for TRICARE beneficiaries over six weeks in late 2014 and early 2015. TRICARE was billed approximately $4.4 million for those prescriptions.

Marketing group employees provided patient names and phone numbers to Agatep, who never saw the patients and knew that writing the prescriptions was not in the ordinary course of medical practice and not medically necessary, prosecutors said.

Agatep could face up to 10 years in federal prison.

This case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

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