Dr. Gordon Freedman of Manhattan's Upper East Side was indicted along with four other doctors for accepting a bribe from a pharmaceutical company to prescribe Subsys – a spray form of the highly addictive fentanyl opioid intended for use exclusively for those battling cancer.
Freedman was already a top-rated salesman and a paid promotional speaker, but he accepted an offer for more money from Insys Therapeutics – the manufacturer of Subsys – in exchange for increasing the number of fentanyl prescriptions to unwitting patients.
Freedman and four other doctors accepted the kickback and were paid more than $800,000 to prescribe Subsys. Now, all five doctors are being indicted for conspiracy and other charges that could land them up to 20 years in prison.
Five Manhattan doctors were paid more than $800,000 by a pharmaceutical company to prescribe a spray version of the… https://t.co/sytfUbUDJR— NBC News (@NBC News)1521253091.0
On Friday, doctors Gordon Freedman, Jeffrey Goldstein, Todd Schlifstein, Dialecti Voudouris and Alexandru Burducea pleaded not guilty in federal court and were each released on $200,000 bond.
On Friday, the five physicians, several of whom are affiliated with prestigious hospitals, were indicted on conspir… https://t.co/PkmLmo5YkV— MѕTяιαl (@MѕTяιαl)1521293290.0
The 75-page unsealed indictment detailed Insys paying the doctors roughly $100,000 annually to prescribe millions of dollars worth of fentanyl to new patients. In exchange, the doctors were paid to give educational lectures about the drug, when in fact, the gatherings were a ruse with many of them taking place at fancy restaurants and other social gatherings that involved no lectures, whatsoever.
Authorities said that sign-in sheets for the sham forums were often forged with the names of absent health care practitioners.
@MsTriaI People wonder why opiod addiction is on a continuous rise. Big pharma needs to go. These are not the only… https://t.co/3UYNl9fgNs— Jordan Winkfield (@Jordan Winkfield)1521342045.0
According to the New York Times, charges were additionally filed against John Kapoor, the billionaire founder and former chief executive of Insys, and other Insys officials for participating in the scandal dating back to 2014.
The Arizona-based company was already mired in controversy over its aggressive form of marketing the fentanyl spray since its approval in 2012.
@andrewperezdc @tomangell Insys Therapeutics made $62 million in net revenue on Subsys fentanyl sales in the first… https://t.co/ccodkwXWxX— lottery Winner (@lottery Winner)1521327350.0
The United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman, told the Times:
These prominent doctors swore a solemn oath to place their patients' care above all else. Instead, they engaged in a malignant scheme to prescribe fentanyl, a dangerous and potentially fatal narcotic 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, in exchange for bribes in the form of speaker fees.
Berman's office released the names of two other former Insys employees – Jonathan Roper and Fernando Serrano – who pleaded guilty to the charges and are cooperating with the investigation.
The indictment noted that Insys executives "tracked and circulated statistics for each speaker." Roper reportedly threatened sales representatives in an email, stating there would be no more speaking engagements if they didn't push subscriptions. As worded in the indictment, Roper wrote: "NO SCRIPTS. NO PROGRAMS."
According to NBC News, the indictment revealed that another sales representative emailed Freedman with explicit instructions on how many new patients were required to reach the company's targeted goal.
I'd rather you put 20 (or more, of course LOL) new patients (commercially insured of course, as always) on it in April even if we wind up getting only 10-14 approved, rather than only have you go with the safe 6-7 that you think will all get approved.
The rage is real on Twitter.
@MsTriaI The true DRUG DEALERS! PUSHERS OF this country right there in front of you! Will most likely never do a da… https://t.co/Ew0DL5ezmm— Rich (@Rich)1521366883.0
"Insys paid the doctors, in some cases more than $100,000 annually, in return for prescribing millions of dollars’… https://t.co/ez4ZlhNGu8— Lee Yom (@Lee Yom)1521279552.0
@im_bill_clinton I m just as angry shit like this happens (i.e. big companies wanting to get bigger and more profit… https://t.co/U3rYJUthey— Lee Yom (@Lee Yom)1521387273.0
People referred to Donald Trump's proposed death penalty for drug dealers.
I guess big pharma execs will get the death penalty for this, that's how it works, right? https://t.co/cWcZ31KcII— David Klion (@David Klion)1521297115.0
@DavidKlion Here's a question for our conservative friends who insist that corporations are "people" and simultaneo… https://t.co/Tt4VhLh9V4— Sebastian Weinberg (@Sebastian Weinberg)1521307470.0
In reality, however, the punishment probably won't be severe.
@DavidKlion They’ll get a slap on the wrist and maybe probation from the Medical Association. I doubt any one of th… https://t.co/v4mzE6aBNb— LinP (@LinP)1521367529.0
@DavidKlion @richardpbacon Sorry David. They won’t. However they’ll probably end up in the Trump Administration, wh… https://t.co/EeSto733oB— bernard.bernard (@bernard.bernard)1521382815.0
Some believe it's about doctors' ethics.
@NBCNews Most pharmaceutical companies send their reps out to sweet talk with doctors. It is the doctors's choice.… https://t.co/Y3QehNg18r— Résistance 2017 (@Résistance 2017)1521255286.0
@MFrance923 @NBCNews Nope. It's up to the DRs to be the point of authority and better judgement. Cant blame pharma for trying to sell.— King Longshanks II (@King Longshanks II)1521336204.0