Prominent local fertility doctor admits to taking kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies
EDMONTON -- A prominent Edmonton fertility doctor is under scrutiny for profiting off the drugs he prescribed.
Former patients of Dr. Tarek Motan at the Regional Fertility & Women’s Endocrine Clinic within the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s Lois Hole Hospital for Women are being contacted about the conflict of interest.
Patients who saw Dr. Motan from August 2015 to November 2017 began receiving letters in the mail last week.
CTV News Edmonton obtained a copy of the letter from an affected patient.
In it, Motan admits to having a “financial rebate arrangement” with three pharmaceutical companies.
Motan would pay for fertility drugs such as Gonal-f, Puregon, and Menopur that were then dispensed and sold to patients attending Glengarry Pharmacy. Patients were instructed by Dr. Motan to specifically go to this pharmacy.
In return, Motan says he received “monetary rebates” without “obtaining proper authorization and approval” from Alberta Health Services (AHS) and his regulatory college.
CTV News Edmonton spoke to Dr. Motan in 2013 when he shared how he enjoyed being considered a champion for helping Alberta families struggling to get pregnant.
Now, in the letter to patients, he admits to secretly making money off of prescriptions he wrote.
Additionally, Dr. Motan says starting in 2014, he would “on occasion” prescribe “high doses” of fertility medications to patients.
“This may have put some patients at increased risk of experiencing adverse effects including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS),” he said in the letter.
“I wish to apologize to my patients that attended at the RAH Fertility Clinic for my lack of transparency.”
Dr. Motan said that this approach to prescribing medicine was contrary to health advice.
“The higher doses meant that patients also experienced higher cost and prescribing the higher doses of some of the drugs resulted in higher rebate amounts,” he added.
It is not known if Dr. Motan advised patients about the risks involved with prescribing higher than recommended doses of medication.
Dr. Motan said in the letter that he advised patients at the time that it was “beneficial” to start at high doses of fertility medications based on his own professional experience.
CTV News Edmonton has called and emailed Dr. Motan and the Glengarry Phramacy and are waiting to hear back.
In a statement to CTV News, the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta, said: "Overprescribing medication and profiting from those prescriptions contravenes CPSA’s Standards of Practice and the CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism. Although we cannot speak to specifics of this situation due to Health Professions Act legislation, CPSA is responsible for investigating this matter."
In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP) said it received a complaint in 2019 about the “professional conduct” of the owner of Glengarry Pharmacy.
The college said this lead to an investigation into the conduct of the pharmacist involved and the operation of Glengarry Pharmacy.
The investigation concluded in January 2020.
“The pharmacist involved acknowledged their conduct in the matter,” the ACP said in the statement. “The ACP required changes in the pharmacist’s conduct and in the operation of the pharmacy to ensure that the public is protected.”
“(The) standards of practice for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians require a pharmacist to assess the appropriateness of each prescription, taking into consideration the needs of the individual patient.”
The statement did not reveal what changes were made or if the pharmacy faced any disciplinary action.
As of publication there is no indication anything Dr. Motan did was criminal in nature.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Touria Izri