Greensburg doctor charged with conspiring to receive kickbacks for prescribing fentanyl, and then causing insurers to pay for the unlawful prescriptions


Date: February 3, 2020


PITTSBURGH — A Westmoreland County physician has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on charges of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, health care fraud, and conspiracy to distribute phentermine hydrochloride and diethylpropion.

The four-count Indictment, returned on January 16, and unsealed on January 30, named Thomas Whitten of Greensburg, PA as the defendant.

According to the Indictment, from May 2013 to November 2015, in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Whitten conspired to receive kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for prescribing fentanyl, in the form of Subsys, to his patients, and that Whitten conspired to distribute fentanyl, in the form of Subsys. The Indictment also alleges that from May 2013 to March 2017, Whitten committed health care fraud by causing insurers to pay for unlawful Subsys prescriptions. Finally, the Indictment alleges that from November 2017 through December 12, 2019, Whitten conspired to distribute phentermine hydrochloride and diethylpropion.

The law provides for a sentence of not less than five years in prison and a maximum of 40 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $5,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

The investigations leading to the filing of charges in these cases were conducted by the Western Pennsylvania Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which combines personnel and resources from the following agencies to combat the growing prescription opioid epidemic: Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Drug Enforcement Administration, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Attorney's Office – Criminal Division, Civil Division and Asset Forfeiture Unit, Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General, Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Licensing.

Assistant United States Attorneys Cindy K. Chung and Karen Gal-Or are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.