New York doctors charged in cash for prescription scheme

Five New York doctors were charged yesterday in a bribery and kickback scheme that prosecutors said sought to increase drug company Insys Therapeutics’ sales and preyed on unwitting patients.

The doctors pocketed, in some cases over $100,000 annually, in return for prescribing millions of dollars’ worth of the company’s painkiller, according to the indictment. The illicit payments were routed by the company through a bogus “speakers bureau,” in which the doctors were paid for purportedly giving educational presentations. In many cases the meetings were mere social gatherings at high-end Manhattan restaurants.
The gatherings had little do with any educational presentation, and attendance sign-in sheets were often forged to include the names of health care practitioners who were not actually present, according to the authorities.
According to prosecutors, the lucrative scam enjoyed by the five Upper East Side doctors included six-figure kickbacks and even cocaine, booze, strippers and weed.
The details were spelled out yesterday in a federal indictment for over-prescription of a highly-addictive fentanyl spray by the five doctors.
Drs Gordon Freedman and Todd Schlifstein were also treated to a strip club extravaganza, in October 2013 where a senior pharmaceutical executive spent $4,100 on liquor and lap dances, officials charged.
Dr Freedman, 57, allegedly collected over $300,000 in fake fees from pharmaceutical company Insys .
According to authorities in the last three months of 2014 alone, the Mount Kisco resident wrote $1.1 million of prescriptions for the spray.
“These prominent doctors swore a solemn oath to place their patients’ care above all else,” said Manhattan US attorney Geoffrey Berman.
“Instead, they engaged in a malignant scheme to prescribe fentanyl ... in exchange for bribes in the form of speakers fees.”
All five defendants pleaded not guilty in federal court last afternoon and were released on $200,000 bond.