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Alabama doctor surrenders license over fake flu shots

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A Montgomery physician has surrendered his medical license and shut down his office after being accused of giving fake flu shots for two years.

Dr. Zev-David Nash had been scheduled for a Jan. 25 hearing before the state Medical Licensure Commission. Instead, he chose to surrender his medical license, Sen. Larry Dixon, executive director of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, said Monday.

Dixon said other states would be notified of the Alabama case.

"I think his career in medicine is over," he said.

The medical examiners board filed a complaint accusing Nash of giving more than 90 fake flu shots in 2004 and giving one fake flu shot this year before being stopped by board investigators who were acting on a tip.

In an order issued Nov. 17, the Alabama Medical Licensure Commission directed Nash to stop practicing medicine until the January hearing. There the commission could have revoked his license or taken lesser action, such as requiring more training.

Nash's office in Montgomery is closed, and his attorney, Jim Williams, said Friday they had no comment.

This is not the first allegation of fake flu shots this year in the United States.

Two people in Texas are facing charges of operating a scheme to give fake flu shots and bill Medicare for the real thing.

The complaint against Nash, a 47-year-old graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, did not indicate why he gave the fake flu shots.

Dixon, whose staff handled the investigation, said the case was so strong that Nash decided not to fight it. "We have the syringes in our possession," he said.

The complaint said Nash verbally and in writing admitted giving fake shots.

The complaint said Nash removed vials of saline from the supply room at Baptist Medical Center East in Montgomery in the early morning hours of Oct. 19, 2005. Later that day, he and his staff were set up to give flu shots at the downtown office of Colonial Bank.

Based on a tip, board investigators went to the bank but did not locate Nash "until after at least one vaccination had already been given."

After being confronted by the investigators, Nash gave them a box of syringes and "verbally admitted the syringes contained a saline solution instead of flu vaccine. After this verbal admission, Dr. Nash then gave a written statement further detailing how he substituted the saline solution for flu vaccine in syringes he took to Colonial Bank," the complaint says.

The complaint alleged a similar — but much larger — incident occurred a year earlier. It said Nash took saline solution from the hospital on Oct. 20, 2004, and "injected over 90 Colonial Bank employees with a substance alleged to have been flu vaccine."

Flu vaccine was in short supply in 2004, with people lining up for hours to get the shots.

Saline is a salt solution that duplicates the fluid in the body and is not harmful.

Merrie Tolbert, spokeswoman for Colonial Bank, said the bank arranged annual flu shots as a convenience to its employees. The clinics were not open to customers, she said.

Concerning Nash's most recent visit to the bank, she said the clinic was quickly halted. "None of our employees received any shots," she said.

Nash was already familiar to the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners before investigators showed up at the Montgomery bank in October.

In February, Nash signed a consent order admitting that while he was taking a summer vacation in 2004, his physician assistant saw patients, "some of whom received prescriptions for controlled substances" without the doctor's supervision. He was fined $15,000, according to board records.

On the Net: Alabama Board of Medical Examiners, www.albme.org.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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