5 New York City physicians charged with taking kickbacks for fentanyl prescriptions

Five Manhattan physicians are charged with participating in a scheme to receive kickbacks and bribes from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing millions of dollars worth of a fentanyl-based spray manufactured by Insys, according to CBS News.

Insys launched a "Speakers Bureau" in 2012 that was purportedly aimed at educating physicians about the fentanyl spray, which is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. However, the program was actually used to induce physicians to prescribe large volumes of the spray by paying them speaker program fees, according to the Department of Justice.

The following five physicians were charged for their involvement in the scheme: Gordon Freedman, MD; Jeffrey Goldstein, MD; Todd Schlifstein, DO; Dialecti Voudouris, MD; and Alexandru Burducea, DO.

The speakers, including the defendants, were supposed to conduct a slide presentation for other clinicians regarding the fentanyl spray at each speaker program. Instead, many of the programs led by the defendants were predominantly social affairs where no presentation about the spray occurred, according to the DOJ.

"A substance as powerful as fentanyl should be prescribed based only on doctors' own independent medical judgment," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said. "In this case, as alleged, a series of doctors were convinced to push aside their ethical obligations and prescribe a drug for profit to patients who turned to them for help. Doctors and medical professionals everywhere should be reminded of the faith and trust placed upon them, and that the health and safety of their patients is not for sale."

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