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Doctor and treatment facility ordered to pay civil penalties

A medical doctor and treatment facility have been ordered to pay civil penalties for alleged violations of the Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act and Federal Trade Commission Act.

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The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), today announced that the government will collect $100,000 in civil penalties from Defendants Dalal Akoury MD, PLLC, AWAREmed Wholistic Urgent Care, PLLC, and medical provider Dalal Akoury as part of a settlement to resolve alleged violations of the Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018 and the FTC Act in connection with the advertising of treatment services of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center (AWAREmed).

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the government alleged that, beginning since at least 2018 and continuing until at least June 16, 2022, the defendants made misleading and unsubstantiated advertising claims about the effectiveness of AWAREmed’s treatments for various illnesses, including substance use disorder, cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Among other things, the defendants allegedly claimed that virtually every patient at any stage of illness improved after visiting AWAREmed’s clinic, including through the remission of illnesses considered by most to be incurable. The complaint alleged these advertising claims were misleading and unlawful because they were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

“The Justice Department is committed to halting deceptive health marketing claims directed at consumers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “Misleading advertisements touting unproven medical treatments prevent consumers from making informed decisions about their health and wellness.”

“The opioid crisis claims lives and destroys communities all across the United States but especially in rural areas,” said Director Samuel Levine of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Doctors peddling phony promises should know that the FTC will use its strengthened authority from Congress to stop them from exploiting Americans struggling with addiction.”

In addition to civil penalties, the stipulated order entered by the court today prohibits the defendants from making similar advertising claims in the future. It also requires the defendants to notify affected consumers and to submit compliance reports to the FTC for over a decade.

This matter is being handled by Trial Attorneys Zachary L. Cowan and Amy P. Kaplan from the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ben D. Cunningham and Alexa Ortiz Hadley for the Eastern District of Tennessee. James Prunty, Shira Modell, and Elizabeth Sanger represent the FTC.

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