Jacksonville-Area Doctor Pays $850,000 To Settle Allegations She Received Illegal Kickbacks To Prescribe The Fentanyl Drug Subsys
Jacksonville, FL – U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announced today that Dr. Parveen Khanna has paid the United States $850,000 to resolve a civil False Claims Act investigation into whether she submitted false claims to the TRICARE and Medicare programs that were incentivized by illegal kickbacks.
For many years, Insys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ran a wide-ranging scheme to increase the sales of its signature drug Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray that is a powerful, but highly addictive, opioid painkiller. In 2012, Subsys was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the breakthrough treatment of persistent pain in adult cancer patients who were already receiving, and tolerant to, around-the-clock opioid therapy. Insys used “speaker programs” purportedly to increase brand awareness of Subsys through peer-to-peer educational lunches and dinners. However, the programs were actually used as a vehicle to pay bribes and kickbacks to targeted practitioners in exchange for increased Subsys prescriptions to patients and for increased dosage of those prescriptions. Dr. Khanna received money from Insys as part of its speaker program.
The settlement announced today resolves allegations that Dr. Khanna knowingly received kickbacks from Insys in exchange for prescribing Subsys. She has agreed to pay $850,000 in an ability-to-pay settlement.
“Subsys is an extremely potent drug that can have devastating consequences if prescribed to patients who should not be taking instant-release fentanyl,” said U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez. “The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to combating the opioid epidemic by whatever means necessary.”
“Physicians who prescribe Subsys – the most powerful legal opioid in the world – solely for the purposes of financial gain do so by ignoring the dangers the drug may have on the health and well-being of their patients,” said HHS-OIG Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar. “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, we will continue do everything we can to protect patients and hold accountable those who engage in such dangerous schemes.”
“Dr. Khanna is one of many doctors who allowed financial remuneration from a pharmaceutical company to impact patient care,” said Special Agent in Charge Cyndy Bruce of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Southeast Field Office. “DCIS will continue to support the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners in addressing allegation of corruption impacting our military health care system.”
This case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Shea Gibbons, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Inspector General, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
The litigation and settlement of this matter illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act. Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).
The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.