Doctor in Insys opioid kickback scheme gets more than four years in…


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) – A Rhode Island doctor was sentenced on Friday to more than four years in prison after admitting he took kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics Inc to prescribe its fentanyl-based cancer pain drug to people who did not suffer from the condition.

FILE PHOTO: A box of the Fentanyl-based drug Subsys, made by Insys Therapeutics Inc, is seen in an undated photograph provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama. U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama/Handout via REUTERS

Jerrold Rosenberg, 63, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John McConnell in Providence, Rhode Island, after admitting that he took $188,000 in kickbacks paid by Insys disguised as speaker fees that prosecutors said corrupted his medical judgment.

In addition to the 51-month prison term, McConnell ordered Rosenberg pay $754,736 in restitution.

Prosecutors said patients with chronic pain placed their trust in Rosenberg, only to be prescribed Insys’ powerful opioid-based spray Subsys, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use by people with cancer.

Rosenberg is one of several medical practitioners who along with former executives and sales representatives employed by Chandler, Arizona-based Insys have found themselves facing charges amid investigations related to Subsys.

Federal prosecutors in Boston have accused seven former executives and managers at Insys, including billionaire founder John Kapoor, of participating in a scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe Subsys and to defraud insurers into paying for it.

Prosecutors said that beginning in 2012, Kapoor, ex-Insys Chief Executive Michael Babich and others schemed to bribe medical practitioners by paying them to participate in sham speaker programs.

Those ostensibly were meant to educate healthcare professionals about Subsys, yet they tended to be gatherings at restaurants and included friends and co-workers who could not prescribe the product, prosecutors have said.

Rosenberg was among the doctors who participated in the program from 2012 to 2015. He also fraudulently indicated that his patients suffered from cancer when they did not in order to secure insurance approvals for Subsys, prosecutors said.

He was indicted in February 2017 and pleaded guilty in October to charges that he committed healthcare fraud and conspired to receive kickbacks.

Kapoor, Babich and their co-defendants have pleaded not guilty. Insys has said it may need to pay at least $150 million to resolve the U.S. Justice Department’s probe.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman

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