A local court sentenced 51-year-old Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, of New Rochelle, to five-and-half years in prison. Goldstein had previously pleaded guilty to charges that he accepted kickbacks and bribes to prescribe Fentanyl to his patients.
According to court documents, Insys paid Goldstein about $200,000 to stop prescribing a competitor’s product and start prescribing Insys’ Fentanyl.
Much of this money was part of a “Speaker’s Bureau” scam. According to prosecutors, Goldstein and four other New York-area colleagues received tens of thousands of dollars to speak at conferences which were actually social affairs.
Furthermore, prosecutors said that Insys treated Goldstein and his partner to a $4,100 party at a Manhattan strip club.
“Goldstein put his own patients at risk in order to satisfy his own greed and will now spend time in federal prison for recklessly prescribing this highly addictive and powerful opioid,” declared U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.
“This sentence sends a loud and clear signal to the medical community that if you take bribes in return for prescribing, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and risk significant prison time.”
The Opioid Epidemic
Beginning in the 1990s, drug manufacturers like Purdue Pharmaceuticals and Subsys competed with each other to make the most powerful painkiller.
Drugs like Fentanyl, an opioid that’s fifty times stronger than heroin, are the product of that arms race. Fentanyl overdoses killed musicians Tom Petty and Prince.
But they are far from the only victims. Overall, opioid overdose deaths have increased about 800 percent since the early 2000s.
Overdose victims and their families aren’t the only people to feel the effect of the opioid epidemic. This issue has touched pretty much everyone, either directly or indirectly.
The opioid overdose spike caused many cities, counties, and other local governments to provide additional services.
Examples include healthcare, law enforcement, and social services. These cash-strapped governments couldn’t afford these services, so they had to raise taxes.
As outlined below, both direct and indirect victims have legal options in these cases. However, these claims are quite complex. So, only a highly experienced New York personal injury attorney should handle them.
The Federal Communications Commission began allowing drug manufacturers to advertise their wares on television.
Very soon, drug makers were spending millions of dollars on glossy television commercials which prompted people to “ask your doctor about X.”
Many of these commercials were targeted at low-income and less-educated audiences.
As opioids became more available, many doctors wrote prescriptions without adequately verifying patient records. That’s a clear violation of a doctor’s fiduciary duty of care.
The law requires doctors to set aside all other concerns, including the patient’s desire for medicine, and only do what is best for patient health.
Over prescription was an issue as well. Dentists wrote over half of opioid prescriptions, often for relatively minor issues, like a root canal.
Since the pain faded after a couple of days, and there were still pills in the bottle, many of these patients became addicts. On a related note, many physicians weren’t qualified to write opioid prescriptions.
Opioid availability increased mostly because drug shipping companies filled orders and ignored their responsibilities under the Controlled Substances Act.
Since opioids are basically legal heroin, drug shipping companies can only transport these drugs in limited situations.
Instead, many small communities had more pain pills than people. As mentioned, drug companies targeted these places.
Opioid overdoses are devastating in many ways. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. There are no upfront legal fees.