A nurse admitted in federal court to prescribing pain medications in exchange for kickbacks from a drug company, according to authorities.
Heather Alfonso, 42, admitted prescribing the powerful painkiller Subsys, made by the Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics, in exchange for $83,000 in payments over two years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.
The guilty plea, announced June 23, comes amid an ongoing investigation into Insys, federal authorities confirmed.
Alfonso worked as an advanced practice registered nurse at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby, Conn.
She admitted submitting more than $1 million claims related to Subsys prescriptions – and was the most prolific prescriber of the drug in Connecticut, according to the authorities.
Most of the patients who were prescribed the drug did not have cancer – but were taking the drug to treat chronic pain, according to Medicare Part D beneficiaries who were interviewed afterward.
Federal investigators alleged that Alfonso was paid as a speaker at more than 70 dinner programs, at the cost of about $1,000 per event. But Alfonso did not give any kind of presentation at the majority of the events, they added.
A message left for an attorney for Alfonso was not returned. Insys has not returned a message left at their Arizona headquarters.
Subsys is a fentanyl-based spray which is indicated for chronic pain for cancer patients.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 17. Alfonso faces a maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Insys was the subject of an investigation by The New York Times last year involving healthcare federal payment databases, and the off-label use of Subsys.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery