Archive for Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Kansas doctor sued in woman’s fentanyl overdose death

February 20, 2018

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— A Kansas doctor is facing a lawsuit that alleges he contributed to a woman's 2014 fentanyl overdose death.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 approved Subsys, an opioid-based fentanyl spray for cancer pain. The drug is produced by Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company that is the focus of a federal criminal case alleging the company's officials used speaking fees to pay kickbacks to doctors who wrote many Subsys prescriptions, including for uses other than cancer pain.

Insys was paying Overland Park doctor Steven Simon hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees to promote Subsys. More than $200,000 of the $1 million Simon received between 2013 and 2015 in travel expenses and speaking fees came from Insys to promote the drug, the Kansas City Star reported.

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In a lawsuit filed last month, Bobby Ray Jordan contends that Simon treated his wife for back pain from 2013 until her death in January 2014. He alleges that Simon quickly put his wife on higher, more expensive doses of Subsys, which federal prosecutors have said Insys actively encouraged to maximize profits.

Jordan alleges that Simon never told him or his wife that Subsys was a fentanyl product only approved for cancer patients, that he was being paid to promote it, or that it could be fatal. Jordan also said his wife never had cancer, to his knowledge.

Simon was already the focus of two other lawsuits filed last year by former patients who said they were harmed by improper prescription of Subsys. Those lawsuits came about a month after the FBI served a search warrant for patient records at Simon's clinic, the Pain Management Institute of Mid-America Physiatrists. Simon hasn't been criminally charged and he no longer works at the clinic.

The FBI won't say whether Simon is under investigation or whether the visit was related to a wider criminal case against Insys. But the pharmaceutical company said in a financial disclosure filing last year that it had received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas.

Simon's attorney, James Wyrsch, declined to discuss the pending litigation with the newspaper.

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