Clinical investigator indicted for fraud in pharmaceutical trials of blockbuster drug

NEW ORLEANS — Dr. Maria Carmen Palazzo was indicted by a federal grand jury on 55 counts of health care fraud and false documentation in connection with a clinical trial of Paxil in children and adolescents, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said on Thursday.

One area of charges involves clinical trial fraud. According to the indictment, Palazzo, as a clinical investigator for SmithKline Beecham doing business as GlaxoSmithKline, fraudulently failed to maintain and prepare records required by the FDA for evaluation the drug’s safety and effectiveness in children and adolescents.

During approximately a five-year period, Palazzo also defrauded Medicare in connection with services she claimed to have rendered to patients in a Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization Program at Touro Infirmary , according to the indictment.

The indictment also charges that Palazzo defrauded Medicare by submitting fraudulent invoices to Touro for consulting and medical director services. The indictment says because of that Medicare paid Palazzo over $653,000 she was not entitled to receive. (Consulting and Medical director costs of hospitals are passed on to Medicare in part, under the cost report system).

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