17 December 2016

Former Insys Officials Charged in Scheme to Push Its Painkiller - The New York Times

I have been suggesting that Pharma was conspiring with doctors to get people hooked on opioids.

It appears that certain elements in the Department of Justice agree:
Federal prosecutors brought racketeering charges on Thursday against several former executives of Insys Therapeutics, a small Arizona drug company, saying they were part of a scheme that involved aggressive sales of the powerful and highly addictive pain drug fentanyl.

Criminal charges are unusual in cases involving pharmaceutical companies, and prosecutors said they intended to put companies on notice.


According to the indictment, the six former employees, including the former chief executive, Michael L. Babich, and regional sales directors, offered bribes and kickbacks to pain doctors in various states in exchange for getting them to prescribe more of the company’s product, Subsys, a spray form of fentanyl. Subsys is supposed to be used only by cancer patients who are already on round-the-clock pain drugs.


Prosecutors said executives at Insys began to aggressively market Subsys soon after it arrived on the market in 2012, and they were frustrated because it was not performing well against several similar fentanyl products that were already on the market. So over the next few years, they set out to woo pain doctors who had a track record for prescribing large quantities of fentanyl, enticing them with speakers’ fees, lavish dinners and in some cases going so far as to hire their relatives.
Seriously, these guys are no different from the drug dealer on the corner, except for the fact that much of their money comes from government subsidies (patent) and direct payments from social programs (Medicare and Medicaid).

Maybe it's time to rethink those government subsides and direct payments.


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