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Fentanyl Sales Rep Avoids Prison In Kickback Scheme

Federal Courthouse in New Haven.
Federal Courthouse in New Haven. Photo Credit: U.S. Federal Courthouses

A 35-year-old woman avoided prison time for her role in an elaborate kickback scheme involving fentanyl spray prescriptions that were distributed in Connecticut.

Natalie Levine of Scottsdale, Arizona, was sentenced in federal court in New Haven to five years probation for engaging in the kickback scheme, U.S. Attorney John Durham announced. She was also ordered to spend the first six months in home confinement and will perform 150 hours of community service after pleading guilty to violating the anti-kickback law.

Levine was employed by Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics, a company that manufactured and sold Subsys - a fentanyl-based sublingual spray that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration solely for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients - between March 2013 and October 2014.

During her time at Insys Therapeutics, Levine served as a sales representative for the company responsible for terrorizes in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

Durham said that Levine induced certain medical practitioners, including an advanced practice registered nurse in Connecticut, a physician’s assistant in New Hampshire, and a physician in Rhode Island, to prescribe Subsys by paying them to participate in hundreds of sham “speaker programs.”

According to Durham, the “speaker programs” were held at high-end restaurants and were designed to gather healthcare professionals to prescribe Subsys. In reality, the events were just a gathering of friends and co-workers, most of whom were unable to prescribe the drug. At the programs, “speakers” were paid thousands of dollars to attend the dinner.

As part of the scheme, the sign-in sheets for “speaker programs” were forged to make it appear legitimate.

Doctors were paid thousands of dollars in illegal kickbacks in order to prescribe Subsys, and influence others to prescribe Subsys, over similar medications. Medicare plans authorized payment for hundreds of Subsys prescriptions written by the three medical practitioners, resulting in a loss of approximately $4.5 million. 

Durham noted that Levine’s will pay undetermined restitution, which will be announced at later court dates.

In January, Levine’s husband, Michael Babich, who was the CEO and President of Insys Therapeutics, pleaded guilty in the District of Massachusetts to conspiracy and fraud charges stemming from the scheme and is awaiting sentencing.

In May, a federal jury in Boston found John Kapoor, the founder and former Executive Chairman of Insys Therapeutics, and four other former Insys executives guilty of racketeering conspiracy.

Earlier this month, Insys Therapeutics agreed to pay a total of $225 million to resolve criminal and civil investigations of the company.

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