Pharma Execs Charged in Fentanyl Pushing Scheme  E-mail
Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire

12/27/2017 - ATIN - Top execs of a US pharmaceutical company have been arrested for allegedly scheming to overprescribe the highly addictive opiate fentanyl, a key and highly powerful narcotic that is increasingly blended into street heroin. Some say that soaring illegal use of fentanyl as an additive to street opiates is a major driving force behind the current national epidemic of drug addiction that has sent overdose rates to record levels in virtually every region of the country.

Charged were former execs and managers of Insys Therapeutics, Inc. who were arrested earlier this month for leading an allegedly illegal scheme to greatly increase prescriptions of fentanyl-based pain medication across the nation. Those arrested include former CEO and President of the company, Michael L Babich.

Insys' "powerful, and potentially dangerous" fentanyl spray, "Subsys," was approved in 2012 only to treat a small market of cancer patients, according to the indictment. Insys bribed medical practitioners with hundreds of thousands of dollars to hand out a large number of Subsys prescriptions, "most often for patients who did not have cancer," the indictment states.

Not surprisingly, Insys "dramatically increased the volume of prescriptions written for the Fentanyl Spray...generating substantial profits," according to federal prosecutors.

The bribes and kickbacks, which allegedly occurred between 2012 and 2015, were usually disguised as payments for the practitioner giving speeches at marketing events, a typical way that pharma companies influence doctor prescribing. Insys also allegedly lied to insurers who were unwilling to grant payment for Subsys being prescribed to non-cancer patients, lies that helped boost sales of the drug dramaticallly, the indictment alleges.

In 2015, Insys sales reached $331 million. And Forbes reported that the company's founder John Kapoor is a billionaire, among  the country's wealthiest people.

Opioid-related deaths in the United States rose 15 percent from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015, according to data from US Center for Health Statistics.

Ted Jackson


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