In an unusual move, the FBI is reaching out publicly to patients who were prescribed the powerful narcotic medication Subsys, which federal agents allege was improperly dispensed by practitioners across the country, including a nurse in Derby.
In a posting on its Victim Assistance Program website, the FBI asks people who were prescribed Subsys between March 2012 and December 2016 to complete a brief questionnaire that will assist in a federal probe of Insys Therapeutics, the company that makes Subsys.
The appeal follows the indictments in December of six top executives and managers of Insys on charges they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and nurses to prescribe Subsys, which is approved for treating cancer patients suffering episodes of breakthrough pain. In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer, the indictments allege.
One of the practitioners named in the indictments is Heather Alfonso, formerly an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby. She has pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from Insys through a sham “speakers’ program,” in exchange for prescribing Subsys.
Alfonso has been cooperating with investigators as she awaits sentencing, court documents show.
The six former Insys executives are charged with conspiring to mislead and defraud health insurance providers who were reluctant to approve payment for Subsys when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients.
The FBI post says that responses from patients prescribed Subsys will be “useful in the federal investigation and to identify you as a potential victim…
“The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that it investigates and provide these victims with information, assistance services, and resources. Information obtained as a part of this investigation will be handled in accordance with medical privacy laws,” it says.
For information and to access the questionnaire click here.