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Five Doctors in New York are being Charged for a kickback money-making Scheme, according to The New York Times. The doctors received as much as $100,000 a year or more for prescribing a specific drug to their patients, who were unaware that the doctors were being bribed to do so. This abuse of power is especially troubling because the doctors were prescribing fentanyl, a highly addictive and dangerous substance.

Profits were paid out to the doctors out of a fake "speakers bureau" fund. Supposedly, the doctors were being paid for making educational presentations about the drugs. But upon investigation, it turned out that the "speakers bureau" was just a coverup for giving doctors large sums of bribe money.

About the doctors

One of the doctors, Dr. Gordon Freedman, allegedly prescribed Subsys at an extremely high rate, becoming one of the top doctors in the country to recommend it to his patients. Subsys, a fentanyl spray, is distributed by Insys. In the end, Freedman made around $300,000 in fees from Insys for prescribing millions of dollars worth of the drug before he was caught.

Also, Freedman and Schlifstein once enjoyed a night out hosted by a pharmaceutical rep that cost $4,100. The money was spent on liquor and lap dances from strippers. The other doctors named in the federal case are Jeffrey Goldstein, Todd Schlifstein, Dialecti Voudouris, and Alexandru Burducea. On Friday, they all pleaded not guilty. The five doctors being charged are currently out on a $200,000 bond.

More doctors taking kickbacks

A Rhode Island doctor, Jerrold Rosenberg, who was convicted of taking kickbacks from Insys, was sentenced to four years in prison in early March.

He made $188,000 in bribe money. Another Michigan doctor, Gavin Awerbuch, was sentenced to two years in prison for taking bribes from Insys.

Fentanyl's dangers

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is known to be exponentially more powerful than morphine. It was meant to help with severe pain after serious surgeries, and in cancer patients who need additional pain control. It's highly addictive and has become a big part of the nation's opioid epidemic.

Most of the opioid overdoses related to heroin and synthetic non-methadone drugs in past years involved fentanyl. Abusers can unknowingly use fentanyl, which can be very dangerous and fatal because it can be mixed into their heroin or other drugs. Because the substance is so dangerous, it's important for doctors to prescribe them only to patients that need it, and to do so responsibly.