NEW YORK, NY —Jeffrey Goldstein, 48, of New Rochelle, New York was a doctor of osteopathic medicine who owned a private medical office on the Upper East Side. He resides in a house just a few dozen feet from Barnard Early Childhood Center in one direction and from the house where New RochellePolice Commissioner Patrick Carroll lived until his recent retirement.
Goldstein received approximately $196,000 in Speaker Program fees from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing large volumes of the Fentanyl Spray. After Goldstein began prescribing a competitor painkiller, Insys Therapeutics pressured him to stop doing so and switch patients to the Fentanyl Spray, which Goldstein did.
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the unsealing Friday of an Indictment in Manhattan federal court charging five Manhattan doctors, Gordon Freedman, Jeffrey Goldstein, Todd Schlifstein, Dialecti Voudouris and Alexander Burducea, with participating in a scheme to receive bribes and kickbacks in the form of fees for sham educational programs from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing millions of dollars’ worth of a potent fentanyl-based spray manufactured by Insys Therapeutics, among other offenses.
Freedman, Goldstein, Schlifstein, Voudouris and Burducea,were arrested Friday morning.
In 2014, Goldstein was approximately the fifth-highest-paid Insys Therapeutics Speaker nationally. He was the sixth-highest prescriber of the Fentanyl Spray in the last quarter of 2014, accounting for approximately $809,275 in overall net sales of the Fentanyl Spray in that quarter.
The Fentanyl Spray, which is manufactured by Insys Therapeutics, is a powerful painkiller that is approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The FDA approved the Fentanyl Spray only for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients. Prescriptions of the Fentanyl Spray typically cost thousands of dollars each month, and Medicare and Medicaid, as well as commercial insurers, reimbursed prescriptions written by the defendants.
Insys Therapeutics launched a “Speakers Bureau” in or about August 2012. While the Speakers Bureau was purportedly aimed at educating other practitioners about the Fentanyl Spray, in reality Insys Therapeutics used its Speakers Bureau to induce the doctors to prescribe large volumes of the Fentanyl Spray by paying them Speaker Program fees.
Speakers were supposed to conduct a slide presentation for other health care practitioners regarding the Fentanyl Spray at each Speaker Program. In reality, many of the Speaker Programs led by the defendants were predominantly social affairs where no educational presentation about the Fentanyl Spray occurred. Attendance sign-in sheets for the Speaker Programs were frequently forged by adding the names and signatures of health care practitioners who had not actually been present.
Jonathan Roper and Fernando Serrano, two former Insys employees have pled guilty and cooperating with the government.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “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. Payments from pharmaceutical companies should not influence how doctors prescribe — especially when a potent and dangerous drug like Fentanyl is involved. This scheme to use their patients as an instrument for profit has resulted in the indictment of five physicians.”
The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by a judge.
Goldstein has been charged with Anti-Kickback conspiracy (5 years), Violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute (5 years), Honest services fraud conspiracy (20 years), Aggravated identity theft (2 years mandatory), and Wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information (1 year).
During multiple Speakers Program events Goldstein was intoxicated from drug and alcohol use. He used marijuana with an Insys Therapeutics employee. He used cocaine in a restaurant bathroom.
In addition to paying Goldstein thousands of dollars, Insys Therapeutics paid $595.74 dinner for Goldstein and his wife at a Connecticut casino and $592.75 for a dinner at an Atlantic City casino. Also, a nightclub bill of $2,000, $2,095.51 for an office party for Goldstein’s medical office and $9,800 for a “security system” based on a fraudulent invoice. Goldstein provided Insys Therapeutics a password to gain access to patient medical files without patients knowledge or permission.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Noah Solowiejczyk and David Abramowicz are in charge of the prosecution; paralegal specialist Jake Sidransky provided additional support.