What to Know
- A doctor honored for his work treating chronic pain was sentenced for taking bribes to prescribe large amounts of very addictive painkillers
- Todd Schlifstein was among five NY doctors charged with taking speaking fees to prescribe millions of dollars' worth of fentanyl-based spray
- Prosecutors say the spray made by the Arizona company Insys Therapeutics Inc. is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine
A doctor once honored for his efforts in relieving patients' chronic pain has been sentenced to two years in prison for accepting bribes to prescribe large amounts of a highly addictive painkiller.
Todd Schlifstein was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge.
Schlifstein was among five New York doctors charged last year with accepting bribes in the form of speaking fees to prescribe millions of dollars' worth of a fentanyl-based spray that is also a highly addictive painkiller.
Prosecutors say the spray made by the Arizona company Insys Therapeutics Inc. is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. All five doctors had initially pleaded not guilty in Manhattan federal court in March 2018 to conspiracy and other charges.
The doctors, four men and a woman, collected tens of thousands of dollars working for the company's "Speakers Bureau" over a four-year stretch beginning in August 2012, according to prosecutors.
The other doctors have been identified as Gordon Freedman, 57, of Mount Kisco, Jeffrey Goldstein, 48, of New Rochelle, Dialecti Voudouris, 47, of Long Island City and Alexandru Burducea, 41, of Little Neck. All practiced in Manhattan, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the "Speakers Bureau" was created with the purported intent to educate other practitioners about the fentanyl spray, but it was used instead to induce doctors to prescribe large volumes of the spray by paying them speaker program fees.
They said that although speakers were supposed to conduct slide presentations, the events often became mostly social affairs with no educational presentation about the spray.
A message was left with Insys seeking comment.
The New York state Assembly in 2016 honored Schlifstein as a founding director of the New York State Pain Society.