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June 20, 2019

NYC docs allegedly took big bribes to push ‘potent’ opioid spray

March 16, 2018

Five Upper East Side doctors were charged Friday with pocketing six-figure kickbacks for prescribing millions of dollars worth of a highly-addictive fentanyl spray.

The allegedly crooked quintet were busted for a scheme where they were paid generously through bogus “speaker programs” as payback for their promotion of the potent product.

The extra benefits for Drs. Gordon Freedman and Todd Schlifstein included an October 2013 strip club extravaganza where a senior pharmaceutical exec spent $4,100 on booze and lap dances, officials charged.

Freedman, a certified pain management practitioner, collected more than $300,000 in phony fees from pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics, according to court papers.

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In the last three months of 2014 alone, the 57-year-old Mount Kisco resident wrote $1.1 million of prescriptions for the spray, authorities charged.

“These prominent doctors swore a solemn oath to place their patients’ care above all else,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

“Instead, they engaged in a malignant scheme to prescribe fentanyl … in exchange for bribes in the form of speakers fees.”

Arrested with Friedman were doctors Jeffrey Goldstein, 48, of New Rochelle; Schlifstein, 49, of Manhattan; Dialecti Voudouris, 47, of Queens; and Alexandru Burducea, 41, also of Queens.

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All were awaiting their arraignments Friday.

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The fentanyl spray is 50-to-100 times more potent than morphine, and was approved by the federal government exclusively for the treatment of pain in cancer patients.

The so-called speakers programs, pitched as educating other doctors about the spray through a slideshow presentation, were often no more than social events at pricey restaurants, officials charged.

The names and signatures of doctors who did not attend were forged to create the illusion of high attendance, court papers said.

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The doctors were then paid via the phony program in return for writing more prescriptions for the potentially lethal spray, authorities charged.

The company “selected and compensated speakers not based on their qualifications as educators, but rather to induce them to prescribe large volumes of the Fentanyl spray,” the indictment says.

“In return, they prescribed large volumes of the Fentanyl Spray.”

Insys Therapeutics did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But prosecutors also revealed that a pair of former Insys employees were cooperating with authorities in the case against the physicians.

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Jonathan Roper, 38, of Commack, L.I., was a former Insys district sales manager and Serrano, 31, of Manalapan, N.J. once worked as a sales rep.

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