As statewide and national opioid crackdowns continue because of the ongoing overdose epidemic, New Jersey’s 32nd doctor lost his job in the aftermath. Dr. Kenneth P. Sun wrote nearly 800 prescriptions for Subsys, a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration strictly for use in treating cancer pain, to patients who did not need it. From 2012 through 2016, he earned $136,768 in compensation from drug maker Insys, who encouraged the doc to keep the prescriptions “rolling,” according to the Office of the Attorney General.
Dr. Sun’s indiscriminate prescribing netted Insys nearly $5 million in revenues during the near five-year period. While paying him, the drug company closely monitored his prescription habits, reminding him to keep pushing Subsys when there was a dip in prescriptions.
As a result of these findings, Dr. Sun has agreed to the temporary suspension of his license, and Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino is seeking to revoke his license permanently. Dr. Sun was paid as much as $12,100 per month by the drug maker. Subsys is a fentanyl based opioid that is reported to be 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. According to the complaint filed with the state Board of Medical Examiners, the state alleges that Sun received monthly payments a s direct result of his indiscriminate prescribing.
“We contend that Dr. Sun and Insys were working together to make money in the cruelest and sickest way possible, by pushing a dangerous and addictive opioid painkiller on patients who didn’t need it and weren’t approved to receive it,” said Porrino. “The more drugs Dr. Sun prescribed, the more money he appeared to have made. This kind of profit-based drug dispensing is what you’d expect from a street-corner dealer, not a trusted health care provider, and it will not be tolerated in New Jersey.”