Rhode Island doctor pleads guilty in fentanyl spray prescription kickback scheme

by Jim Orr

A doctor in Rhode Island has pled guilty to receiving kickback payments in exchange for prescribing fentanyl to patients who were not eligible to use the drug under FDA guidelines. Dr. Jerrold Rosenberg admitted to receiving $188,000 in payments from Insys Therapeutics between 2012 and 2015 in exchange for prescribing the Subsys fentanyl spray to patients under his care.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful painkiller about 80-100 times more potent than morphine. Because of its extreme potency, the drug has only been approved by the FDA for patients with severe pain, such as cancer patients. Fentanyl is sold in the form of a transdermal patch, a lollipop called Actiq, or a sublingual spray known as Subsys.

Dr. Rosenberg was charged with 13 counts of health care fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, and five counts of receiving kickbacks. He pled guilty to one count of health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to receive kickbacks.

According to charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department, Insys compensated Dr. Rosenberg for prescribing the Subsys fentanyl spray to patients by hiring him to speak at sham events. In many cases, Subsys received compensation payments from Medicare for patients who had been prescribed the drug.

Rosenberg admitted that his decision to prescribe the fentanyl spray to ineligible patients was driven in large part by the speaking fees he received from Insys. Rosenberg’s son, who was an Insys sales rep from 2012-2013, also received a sales commission on fentanyl prescriptions issued by his father.

Rhode Island state attorney general Peter Kilmartin said that Rosenberg “violated the law and his oath as a physician to do no harm when he placed greed over patient care.” Kilmartin said that Rosenberg was “thinking little of the long-term consequences of patients taking this extremely powerful, highly addictive opioid” when he prescribed the drug to patients who did not need it.

As part of his plea agreement, Rosenberg agreed to pay $754,736 in restitution for the kickbacks he received. The former doctor also faces up to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000 in connection with the fentanyl kickback scheme.

Fentanyl Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

The aggressive marketing of fentanyl and other opioid painkillers by the drug industry has also played a major role in the U.S. opioid epidemic. Physician training programs and other campaigns created by the drugmakers have helped “train” doctors to prescribe these drugs more frequently, fueling a rise in the increased use of opioids to treat moderate pain conditions.

If your loved one suffered a fatal overdose caused by fentanyl or other opioid painkillers, you may qualify to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or the doctor or health care center that prescribed the medication. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney with the experience in opioid lawsuits to advise you regarding your legal rights and guide you through the first steps in filing a case.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed more cases involving fentanyl than all other law firms in the U.S. combined. Our law firm has also filed cases on behalf of families who lost a loved one to an overdose caused by other opioid painkillers. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we believe that when consumers are injured by prescription painkillers or other dangerous drugs, they deserve to have their legal interests fully protected in a court of law.

For more information about the fentanyl lawsuits and other cases involving opioids filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson, contact our attorneys for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.