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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 16, 2019

Fourth Manhattan Doctor Pleads Guilty To Accepting Bribes And Kickbacks From Pharmaceutical Company In Exchange For Prescribing Fentanyl Drug

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JEFFREY GOLDSTEIN, a doctor who practiced in Manhattan, pled guilty today to conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, in connection with a scheme to prescribe Subsys, a potent fentanyl-based spray, in exchange for bribes and kickbacks from Subsys’s manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics.  GOLDSTEIN pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As he admitted today, Jeffrey Goldstein, a Manhattan doctor who owned a private medical office on the Upper East Side, prescribed his patients Subsys, a powerful fentanyl drug, in exchange for nearly $200,000 in bribes and kickbacks from the drug’s manufacturer, Insys, as well as various other items of value, including all-expenses paid visits to a Manhattan strip club.  Goldstein is the fourth doctor to plead guilty in this case and his admission of guilt once again demonstrates that this Office will hold any physician accountable when that physician’s medical judgment is compromised by the corrupting influence of money.  That is particularly so when the drug that is being prescribed is a dangerous opioid like fentanyl.  This case should stand as a warning to the New York medical community that if you take bribes from pharmaceutical companies in exchange for prescribing – whether in the form of Speaker Program fees or otherwise – this Office will hold you to account for placing your own interests above those of your patients.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictment against GOLDSTEIN and filings in related proceedings:

The Insys Speakers Bureau

Subsys, which is manufactured by Insys, is a powerful painkiller approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.  The FDA approved Subsys only for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients.  Prescriptions of Subsys typically cost thousands of dollars each month, and Medicare and Medicaid, as well as commercial insurers, reimbursed prescriptions written by GOLDSTEIN.

In or about August 2012, Insys launched a “Speakers Bureau,” a roster of doctors who would conduct programs (“Speaker Programs”) purportedly aimed at educating other practitioners about Subsys.  In reality, Insys used its Speakers Bureau to induce the doctors who served as speakers to prescribe large volumes of Subsys by paying them Speaker Program fees.  Speakers were supposed to conduct an educational slide presentation for other health care practitioners at each Speaker Program.  In reality, many of the Speaker Programs were predominantly social affairs where no educational presentation about Subsys 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.

GOLDSTEIN’s Participation in the Scheme

GOLDSTEIN was a doctor of osteopathic medicine who owned a private medical office on the Upper East Side.  GOLDSTEIN received approximately $196,000 in Speaker Program fees from Insys in exchange for prescribing large volumes of Subsys.  After GOLDSTEIN began prescribing a competitor painkiller, Insys pressured him to stop doing so and switch patients to Subsys, which GOLDSTEIN did. 

GOLDSTEIN also received other items of value from Insys in order to induce him to prescribe.  For example, Insys employees took GOLDSTEIN and Todd Schlifstein, who co-owned a private medical office with GOLDSTEIN, to a Manhattan strip club where Insys spent approximately $4,100 on a private room, alcoholic drinks, and “lap dances” for GOLDSTEIN and Schlifstein.  GOLDSTEIN also arranged for Insys to pay for the annual holiday party for his private medical office.

In 2014, GOLDSTEIN was approximately the fifth-highest-paid Insys Speaker nationally. He was the sixth-highest prescriber of Subsys in the last quarter of 2014, accounting for approximately $809,275 in overall net sales of Subsys in that quarter.

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GOLDSTEIN, 49, of New Rochelle, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.  GOLDSTEIN is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Wood on January 22, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI, and thanked the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General for its participation in the investigation.

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.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Health Care Fraud
Press Release Number: 
19-269
Updated August 16, 2019