Las Vegas pain physician arrested for illegal fentanyl distribution: 5 things to know

Police arrested a Las Vegas pain management physician Feb. 13 for charges related to the unlawful distribution of fentanyl and healthcare fraud.

Here are five things to know.

1. Law enforcement charged Steven Holper, MD, with seven counts of unlawful distribution of fentanyl and 22 counts of providing a fraudulent statement related to a health benefit program.

2. The charges against Dr. Holper allege the physician prescribed Subsys — Insys Therapeutics' fentanyl-based oral spray approved for breakthrough cancer pain — to a patient from July 19, 2015, through March 12, 2016, without legitimate medical purpose. Dr. Holper also allegedly made false statements to Medicare and private health insurance companies characterizing 22 non-cancer patients as eligible for treatment with Subsys.

3. The maximum penalty for the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance is 20 years in prison. For healthcare fraud, the maximum penalty is 10 years in prison.

4. Nevada's interim U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson described the indictment as an "example of the U.S. Attorney's Office commitment to hold doctors accountable when they violate federal laws designed to protect the health and safety of patients."

5. Multiple states — including New York and North Carolina — have filed suit against Insys for allegedly paying physicians to promote the prescription of Subsys to treat pain not related to cancer and deceiving health insurers into covering prescriptions of the drug for unapproved use.

More articles on opioids: 
2 drug distributors shipped 12M+ opioids to West Virginia pharmacy over 8 years: 7 things to know 
5 healthcare workers offer their take on opioid addiction 
How to solve the opioid crisis with $100B — 30 experts weigh in

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