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New York doctor convicted of bribes and kickbacks in opioid case

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A New York doctor has been convicted of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing his patients an addictive fentanyl spray the drug manufacturer produced. Reuters Health reports that Gordon Freedman was the fourth medical practitioner to face trial on charges stemming from what prosecutors say was a wide-ranging bribery scheme orchestrated by the now-bankrupt drugmaker that helped fuel the US opioid epidemic.

A federal jury in Manhattan found Freedman guilty of conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and conspiring to commit honest services wire fraud, prosecutors said.

Fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine. While the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Subsys for use in treating cancer pain, doctors who took bribes often prescribed it to non-cancer patients, prosecutors said.

The report says Freedman was one of Insys’ paid speakers, earning $308,600 from 2012 to 2015, money he received in exchange for writing Subsys prescriptions, prosecutors said. Freedman denied wrongdoing. His lawyer Samuel Braverman said during his opening statement at trial that every prescription Freedman wrote was needed by his patients.

The doctor was among five in New York indicted in March 2018 on charges that they accepted kickbacks from Insys. The other four have pleaded guilty. Insys filed for bankruptcy in June days after striking a $225m settlement with the US Justice Department in which a subsidiary pleaded guilty to fraud.

Reuters Health report

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