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Analysis

NJ Doc Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter for Patient's Fentanyl Death

By John Commins  
   August 13, 2019

Barry S. Sloan, MD, admitted that he gave medically unnecessary prescriptions for 'Subsys' to a 36-year-old Manhattan man who died from an overdose.  

A New Jersey physician faces four-to-nine years in prison after pleading guilty this week to second-degree manslaughter in the fentanyl-related overdose death of a patient.

Under a plea deal reached with New York State prosecutors, Barry S. Sloan, MD, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, will also surrender his New York State medical license. The 61-year-old physician had no prior criminal record before entering the plea.

According to documents filed with the Supreme Court of New York County, Sloan admitted that in August 2014, he gave a 36-year-old Manhattan man identified only as "L.W." by prosecutors two separate and medically unnecessary prescriptions for "Subsys," a narcotic approved by the FDA to treat intense pain in terminal cancer patients.

L.W. died of an overdose four days later.

Sloan also admitted he lied to Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care company contracted by New York to cover the cost of medical care and prescriptions.

Sloan also admitted that between 2012 and 2016, he issued prescriptions for controlled substances, including opioids, to four other patients, without medical justification, which prosecutors said placed each of the patients at significant risk of overdose and death. 

"Doctors take an oath to heal, not harm people," New York State Attorney General Letitia James said in a media release. "With a raging opioid crisis, it is unconscionable that a doctor would recklessly endanger lives by providing fentanyl to healthy patients."

Sloan has also been convicted of multiple counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance, and third-degree healthcare fraud.

"Stated plainly, Dr. Sloan was a drug dealer in a thinly-veiled disguise, which led directly to this conviction," said Scott J. Lampert, Special Agent in Charge for Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General.

"His opioid prescribing, in no small part, fueled the spread of these drugs, while he stole from Medicare and Medicaid," Lampert said.  

“With a raging opioid crisis, it is unconscionable that a doctor would recklessly endanger lives by providing fentanyl to healthy patients.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Sloan lied to Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care company contracted by New York to cover the cost of medical care and prescriptions.

Sloan issued prescriptions for controlled substances, including opioids, to four other patients, without medical justification, which placed them at risk of overdose and death.


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