Local May 31, 2016 | 11:35 am

Dominican doctor faces widening scandal: CourthouseNews.com

West Palm Beach.- Prominent Dominican Dr. Salomon Melgen, implicatedin a corruption scandal involving Sen. Robert Menendez is facing lawsuits thathe injected tainted medicine into patients’ eyes, “permanently damaging theirvision,” Florida- based CourthouseNews.com (CN) reports Tuesday.

It said at least seven putative patients have filedlawsuits against Melgen in Palm Beach County, claiming they suffered severe eyeinfections after receiving injections of bacteria-laden medicine at Melgen’sSouth Florida offices.

“The lawsuits allege the bacterial contamination stemmedfrom Melgen’s profit-driven decision to repackage single-use vials of oculardrugs, primarily the macular degeneration drug Lucentis,” the outlet said.

the complaints, CN reports, say that Melgen ordered therepackaging of Lucentis vials into multiple doses, “in disregard formanufacturer guidelines, and in defiance of the Centers for Disease Control’swarnings to the medical community that compounding the drug could cause it tobecome tainted with bacteria prior to injection.”

Melgen and his medical group, Vitreo-Retinal Consultants,carried out the Lucentis repackaging "for no purpose other than increasingtheir profits," according to Richard Doyle, a Fort Lauderdale attorney whorepresents the majority of the plaintiffs.

“The plaintiffsdeveloped the infections while Melgen was treating them between the fall of2013 and early 2014, the lawsuits allege.”

CN notes that in April 2015, Melgen and Menendez, a New JerseyDemocrat, were indicted on charges of conspiracy, bribery and honest servicesfraud in connection with Melgen’s alleged profiteering off Lucentis. Melgen wasslapped with more than 40 counts of healthcare fraud in a separate indictment.

It said federal prosecutorsclaim Melgen was bringing in "exorbitant and improper" revenue bymilking multiple doses from single-use vials of Lucentis and then billingMedicare for each instance where he administered the drug.

“Melgen and Vitreo-Retinal Consultants billed Medicare $190million and received more than $105 million in payments, much of which wasobtained through fraudulent invoicing,” prosecutors say.

The outlet adds thatMelgen is also accused of falsely diagnosing patients with wet maculardegeneration, so that he could administer his high-priced Lucentis treatmentsto them.

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