Dialecti Voudouris, a hematologist associated with Lenox Hill Hospital and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. The conviction resulted from a scheme by Insys Therapeutics, Inc., to pay kickbacks to doctors for prescribing the company’s fentanyl spay to cancer patients. Voudouris was one of five physicians charged in a 2018 indictment.
Fentanyl spay is an addictive synthetic opiate drug that relieves acute pain in cancer patients that are already taking opiates for pain relief. The patient takes the drug by spaying it under the tongue. Indications for the drug are sudden onset of pain, which is relieved by administering the spay.
The government alleged that the pharmaceutical company paid Dr. Voudouris by naming her as paid speaker for its continuing medical education programs. Through this sham arrangement, the government alleged that the company was able to funnel more than $100,000 to the physician in return for her prescribing the drug. Apparently, the speaking presentations were non-existent, and the payment was really for writing scripts for the drug and not providing presentations.
The Social Security Act makes illegal the receiving or giving any remuneration for the referral of among other items listed patients and services in relation to a federal healthcare program. The maximum penalty for violation of the statute is 10 years’ incarceration.