Northampton company settles federal case over prescription irregularities for $750,000

@amandadrane
Published: 11/28/2016 10:30:50 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A company offering prescriptions for an opioid used to treat addicts will pay $750,000 for improperly prescribing and billing for the substance after the corporation reached a settlement Monday with the U.S. attorney’s office.

CleanSlate Centers Inc. and Total Wellness Centers LLC operate clinics in Northampton, Greenfield, West Springfield, and over a dozen more in the Northeast. The Northampton-based corporation, headquartered in the Roundhouse building behind City Hall, prescribes buprenorphine — also known under the brand name Suboxone — to treat opioid addiction.

“Buprenorphine is an important drug used in the treatment of substance abuse,” U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement of the Schedule III controlled substance. “Until recently, only physicians were allowed to prescribe it. We will continue to closely monitor clinics that use buprenorphine for addiction treatment to ensure that they comply with strict prescribing requirements.”

The U.S. attorney’s office alleges CleanSlate routinely misrepresented prescriptions sent to pharmacies from March 2012 to February 2014, according to a press release. The release states CleanSlate sent pharmacies prescriptions attributed to physicians when only mid-level practitioners, such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants, had seen the patients. Days later, according to the release, physicians hired by CleanSlate for “as little as six hours per month” backdated the prescriptions to the visit dates, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

The federal prosecutors also claim CleanSlate repeatedly billed Medicare for more than the company was owed, charging for visits to doctors when patients saw mid-level practitioners.

“We fully cooperated throughout this process and continue to work closely with officials from the (Department of Justice) and (Drug Enforcement Agency) to ensure the highest compliance and quality of care for the patients we serve,” Chief Executive Officer Greg Marotta said in a statement.

Marotta said the company has responded by working to hire a full-time physician at each clinic, implementing an electronic prescribing system and new protocols.

“As a pioneer and leader in outpatient addiction medicine, CleanSlate is constantly evolving the way we treat patients, guided by the latest in science and proven best practices. We work alongside regulators to ensure a culture of compliance, quality and compassion at our centers,” Marotta said in the statement.

He added that the company benefits “thousands of lives through our tireless work on the front lines of the addiction battle.”

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com. 


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