DENVER (CBS4) — A Colorado doctor will spend two years behind bars for prescribing a fentanyl spray product to patients while receiving around $344,000 in kickbacks and ‘kickbacks’ from the manufacturer of the drug.
Dr. Jeffrey Kesten, 61, formerly of Evergreen, was sentenced Feb. 28 to 24 months in federal prison by a federal judge in Denver.
According to case documents, Kesten conspired with employees of Insys Therapeutics, the maker of Subsys, a powerful sublingual fentanyl spray approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2012 to treat sudden flare-ups of pain in cancer patients.
Kesten then owned and operated the Red Rocks Center for Rehabilitation in Golden.
From late 2012 until November 2015, Kesten was paid as a “national speaker” by Insys. Kesten was paid by the company to speak on behalf of the product, according to the grand jury indictment in the case. Kesten gave about 100 of these talks, although nearly all of the engagements took place at his own clinic and with the same two staff members at his clinic as his audience.
Kesten was also paid to speak to Insys employees.
Meanwhile, Kesten authorized an Insys sales representative to review his patient records and designate patients he could prescribe the fentanyl spray to, according to the indictment.
According to the indictment, clinic staff members noticed an increase in the number of patients prescribed Subsys, along with the number of speaking engagements by Kesten.
Prosecutors claimed in the indictment that Kesten wrote prescriptions for the fentanyl spray worth millions of dollars.
“You need to be able to trust the medical judgment of your doctor,” US attorney Cole Finegan said in a Press release. “We will hold doctors and healthcare professionals accountable for accepting kickbacks and kickbacks, especially when prescribing potent drugs to vulnerable patients.”
The Colorado Medical Board initiated disciplinary action against Kesten in May 2020. In a warning letter, the board found that Kesten prescribed pain medication to a 32-year-old patient despite his own recorded acknowledgment of the behavior and evidence of the patient’s “drug search”. of the history of drug abuse.
The state board suspended Kesten’s medical license five months later.
Kesten was working at the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida at the time.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration then investigated Kesten. He was prosecuted under the Anti-bribery law.
the Insys CEO sentenced to prison in January 2020 for developing the physician bribery system for Subsys prescriptions. Six other executives were sentenced to prison terms.
The company also paid $225 million to settle federal criminal and civil investigations. It declared bankruptcy the same month its CEO was sentenced, according to a profile of the company and its illegalities carried by 60 minutes of CBS later that same year.
“As we have seen over the past few years, fentanyl abuse has become an existential threat across the country,” said David Olesky, DEA acting special agent in Denver. Press release announced Kesten’s sentence. “There is no greater threat to our community than a physician who breaches a patient’s trust with no regard for the patient’s safety and well-being beyond the benefits it may bring them. We applaud this conviction and will continue to work with our counterparts in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure that other physicians who manipulate the system will be held accountable.