A Greensburg doctor pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to taking kickbacks, health care fraud and conspiring to distribute controlled substances.
Thomas Whitten, 71, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV on Dec. 7.
According to prosecutors, Whitten received kickbacks from Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics from May 2013 to November 2015 in exchange for prescribing Subsys, a powerful opioid containing fentanyl. Subsys, which is a liquid that gets sprayed under a patient’s tongue, is only approved for the “management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients” who have developed a tolerance to other pain killers.
However, investigators said Whitten prescribed the drug to patients for whom it was not medically necessary and, therefore, it was not eligible for insurance reimbursement.
Whitten also pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute phentermine hyrocholoride and diethlpropion to patients at five weight-loss clinics from November 2017 to December 2019.