PA is sentenced for writing illicit oxycodone prescriptions while OxyContin maker is able to issue employee bonuses.
Raif Wadie Iskander, 56, formerly of Ladera Ranch, California, who now resides in Montana, has been sentenced to almost four years behind bars for issuing oxycodone prescriptions without a legitimate medical reason. Iskander, once a physician assistant (PA) at a Fountain Valley medical clinic, allegedly knew the pills would ultimately be sold illicitly on the streets. He pleaded guilty in November 2020 to one count of conspiracy to distribute the drug.
According to court documents, authorities found that from 2018 to April 2019, the PA wrote prescriptions for “purported patients he had never met or examined” and he “provided to drug dealers multiple prescriptions that he had signed, but with the patient names left blank, to be filled in later.” The PA would accept cash for each of these transactions, writing fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions specifically for co-defendants Johnny Gilbert “M.J.” Alvarez, 42, of Santa Ana, and Adam Anton Roggero, 37, of Costa Mesa, who eventually sold the pills to an undercover officer.
Meanwhile this month, despite its bankruptcy proceedings, federal judge Robert Drain approved employee bonuses offered by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma for 2022 that could total up to nearly $31 million. The bonuses would be distributed to more than 480 of Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue’s approximately 500 employees.
In its motion to issue the bonuses, Purdue submitted a statement to the court, saying, “The debtors continue to endure significant hiring obstacles (in the face of a broadly difficult and competitive market for talent); 18 headcount positions have opened year to date, joining five positions that opened but were not filled in 2021. Eleven of these positions are unfilled, and it remains extremely unlikely that the debtors will be able to find sufficient, if any, qualified replacements during this critical moment in these Chapter 11 cases. If not for the company’s prior annual compensation programs, the debtors believe that the attrition rate would have been significantly higher.”
Last year, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong voiced his opposition to issuing 2022 bonuses. However, most recently, he has not expressed the same concerns. On the other hand, Tong is one of 24 state attorneys general who filed an objection to a proposed bonus of up to approximately $3 million for Purdue CEO and President Craig Landau. This will be discussed at a separate hearing in mid-June.
“Today’s court approval recognizes the tremendous value that our employees bring to Purdue and to our goal of delivering billions of dollars in value for victim compensation and opioid crisis abatement,” Purdue said following Drain’s decision. “Their efforts are vital to our ability to manufacture and distribute FDA-approved products that benefit patients, progress our pipeline and advance our public health initiatives including overdose rescue medicines.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated there have been more than 500,000 deaths from opioid drugs such as OxyContin (commonly laced with fentanyl and other dangerous drugs when sold illicitly), and the Department of Justice (DOJ) has vowed to continue prosecuting practitioners who knowingly prescribe these drugs without a legitimate medical purpose.