Six top pharmaceutical executives and managers, formerly employed by Insys Therapeutics, Inc., were arrested Thursday on charges that they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners, including a nurse at a pain clinic in Derby. In a sweeping indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, federal prosecutors charged the former CEO and president of the Arizona-based company, Michael Babich, two former vice presidents, and three other managers with paying kickbacks to practitioners in several states, many of whom operated pain clinics, in order to get them to prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication. The medication, Subsys, is a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense episodes of breakthrough pain. In exchange for kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer, the indictment says. Prosecutors also allege that the former executives conspired to mislead and defraud health insurance providers, who were reluctant to approve payment for the drug when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients. One of the 10 practitioners referenced in the indictment is Heather Alfonso, formerly an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby, who has pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from Insys, through a sham “speakers’ program,” in exchange for prescribing Subsys.
The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has fined four nursing homes for various violations, most of which resulted in injuries to residents. Groton Regency Center was fined $2,260 for two incidents that happened in September. On Sept. 12, two staff members reported that a nurse’s aide was seen swearing and pointing a finger at a resident, according to the department’s citation. The resident, who had severe cognitive impairments and suffered from vascular dementia and anxiety, seemed upset and scared at the time, according to the citation, but later could not recall the incident.
The Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday disciplined four nurses, including three for their abuse of alcohol or drugs. The board suspended the registered nursing license of Lori Riley of Sharon after finding that she posed a clear and immediate danger to the public. Records show that in 2015, while working for All About You Homecare in Torrington, she took Percocet meant for a patient, replaced it with Tylenol and falsified the patient’s medical record. From 2014 to 2016, Riley abused Percocet, Oxycodone and Vicodin, records show. This past January, she signed a plan to enter a confidential rehabilitation program, but records show she failed to comply with the program or begin outpatient treatment for substance abuse.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday revoked the medical license of a Bristol doctor who had inappropriate sexual conduct with female patients while working in Maine. Also, the board rejected a consent order that would have reprimanded and fined Dr. David Burchenal of Stonington $3,000 for failing to provide adequate follow-up care for a patient who later died of cancer. Some members said they wanted a stiffer penalty. “This is nothing,’’ board member Dr. Robert Green said of the fine. “A man died.”
The Bristol doctor, Mohammad Aljanaby, will lose his license for engaging in inappropriate physical or sexual conduct with female patients while working as a doctor at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Waterville, Maine in 2012.
Connecticut hospitals reported increases in patient deaths or serious injuries due to falls and medication errors in 2015 compared to 2014, but an overall drop in “adverse events,” according to a new state report. The report, by the Department of Public Health (DPH), shows that the total number of medical errors dipped by 3 percent – from 472 in 2014, to 456 in 2015. There were 90 instances when patients died or were seriously injured in falls, up from 78 in 2014. Seven falls that resulted in injury or death were reported at Yale New Haven Hospital, St. Vincent’s Medical Center and UConn’s John Dempsey Hospital.
State health officials have fined the operator of a Rocky Hill nursing home $5,000 and ordered it to hire an independent nursing consultant after finding dozens of violations, most of which involved the care of residents. Under the order, Apple Rehabilitation of Rocky Hill must hire an independent consultant who is a registered nurse. The consultant must be at the facility 32 hours per week and be on-site at various times during all three shifts. The consultant, who must be pre-approved by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), will work for at least six months to ensure “the safety, welfare and well-being of the residents” and to make sure the facility is obeying laws, the consent order said. The consultant is responsible for assessing, monitoring and evaluating direct resident care “with particular emphasis and focus on the delivery of nursing services,” according to the consent order.
Consumers can begin shopping for 2017 health insurance through Access Health CT (AHCT) starting Nov. 1, but they will encounter fewer options and steeper prices than in previous years. Now in its fourth year, the state’s health insurance marketplace looks different than it has in the past. Most notably, it has only two insurance carriers, ConnectiCare and Anthem, instead of four. State insurance regulators approved a 17.4 percent increase in ConnectiCare’s rates for exchange plans and approved a 22.4 percent rate hike for Anthem’s plans.
The state Board of Examiners for Nursing has recommended disciplining an East Hartford nurse for her actions when a 13-month-old girl she was caring for in Manchester stopped breathing and died in 2014. A June 14 investigative report concluded that licensed practical nurse Shirley A. Powell failed to provide rescue breathing and CPR when the girl’s tracheotomy tube became dislodged. The report, by Helen M. Centeno, a nurse consultant for the state Department of Public Health, also found that Powell failed to safeguard the girl by not having a direct view of her in the playpen in the child’s home on the day of the death, Aug. 15, 2014. Manchester police concluded that Powell left the girl out of her line of sight for 3 to 15 minutes and during that time, the tube became dislodged, the report said.
A former executive of Insys Therapeutics has been criminally charged for leading a special “reimbursement unit” at the company that defrauded insurers into paying for a potent opioid pain medication by falsely claiming patients had cancer and other conditions needed for pre-approval. Elizabeth Gurrieri, a former manager of reimbursement services for Arizona-based Insys, was charged with wire fraud conspiracy in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Boston. The complaint sheds light on a Connecticut case involving a Derby nurse who has been charged with taking kickbacks from Insys in exchange for prescribing the company’s fentanyl spray, Subsys. The nurse, Heather Alfonso, has been cooperating with investigators in Boston and Connecticut in an ongoing probe of Insys’ sales tactics. The complaint against Gurrieri notes that patients needed prior authorizations from insurance companies to cover the costs of Subsys, an expensive drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 for the management of breakthrough pain in patients with cancer who already were receiving opioid pain treatment.
The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday placed a Westport doctor on probation for abusing alcohol and continued a requirement that a Woodbridge pulmonologist who had sexual contact with two women during medical exams have a chaperone present when examining female patients. The board unanimously rejected a request from the pulmonologist, Dr. Sushil Gupta, that the chaperone requirement be dropped. His lawyer, James Biondo of Stamford, wrote to the board that the restriction was keeping Gupta from gaining privileges at a hospital. Biondo wrote that Gupta will never stop using a chaperone even if the restriction is lifted because Gupta “will forever be at risk for a predatory patient given his history.”
At the meeting, Biondo said Yale New Haven Hospital and Griffin Hospital have rejected Gupta’s request for privileges, creating a hardship when Gupta’s patients are hospitalized. Over the objections of state Department of Public Health lawyers, the board reinstated Gupta’s medical license in 2013 and placed it on probation for one year.