To prescribe strong opioid, doctor admitted taking payoffs from drugmaker

A physician in New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania pleaded guilty Friday to scheming to take greater than $140,000 from a pharmaceutical company in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for prescribing a powerful opioid painkiller.

According to the United States, Dr. Kenneth Sun, 58, admitted to federal court charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and pay and receive kickbacks in health care.

As part of both the plea, Sun acknowledged that from 2012 to 2016, in exchange for prescribing more than 28 million micrograms of Subsys, an extremely addictive painkiller containing fentanyl, he conspired with others to solicit and receive bribes and kickbacks from Arizona drug maker Insys Therapeutics. The pain reliever for synthetic opioids is about 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

The Easton, a resident of Pennsylvania, further confessed that in cases where it was not medically required, officials said he doled out the drug. Regulators have endorsed subsys for use only in pain cases involving patients with cancer who are already considerate of other treatments.

Insys ‘ payoffs from the doctor were disguised as “honoraries” for alleged academic presentations on the drug of the company.

Sun owned and operated Progressive Pain Solutions LLC, which had offices at 224 Roseberry St. in Phillipsburg and 382 Epps St. in Plainfield Township, according to records. The scheme has caused Medicare to charge more than $847,000 for non-medical subscriptions acquired through illegal payments as well as not eligible for compensation for Medicare, according to officials.

New Jersey officials suspended Sun’s license to practice medicine in August 2018 as he faced fines, authorities said earlier. Pennsylvania officials also suspended his license to practice as a doctor and surgeon. He is scheduled to be sentenced to federal offenses on February 26, 2020.

Insys filed for bankruptcy in June after being accused of bribing doctors to prescribe Subsys by its founder and top executives and reaching a $225 million government settlement.