Insys Therapeutics executives suffered multiple arrests for bribing doctors to prescribe its fentanyl-based pain medication while funding anti-weed campaigns and developing its own lab-made THC drug.
Sarah Fuller first got her hands on Subsys in January 2015, when FedEx delivered a box containing a twenty-day supply of the fentanyl-based mouth spray. During the fifteen months from her first dose of Subsys, Insys Therapeutics’s flagship opioid pain medication, until her death at 32 from a fatal overdose, Medicare shelled out $250,544 to cover the drug, STAT News reported.
According to Fuller’s family and transcripts of their lawsuit against Insys, she had previously struggled with opioid dependency following two car accidents that left her with painful fibromyalgia. But after experiencing kidney problems related to prescription painkillers, she’d subsequently gone cold turkey and was off all pharmaceuticals the first time she visited with Dr. Vivienne Matalon (whose license was subsequently suspended) in her office in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
That’s where Fuller reportedly encountered an Insys sales rep, who was present during one of her doctor’s appointments to helpfully explain how spraying Subsys under her tongue every four hours would work wonders on that pesky pain. Never mind her history of abuse, or that Subsys had only ever been approved for cancer patients with breakthrough pain.
“As far as I’m concerned they killed her,” Sarah’s mother told STAT in a video interview, referring to both Dr. Matalon and the Insys sales rep.
In my fifteen years of reporting on the War on Drugs—the disproportionate government crackdown on certain communities using narcotics—I’ve never seen a case that pulled back the curtain and tied the whole room together quite like Insys Therapeutics.
First, you’ve got a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company pushing fentanyl, a drug that’s 50 times stronger than heroin. And then you’ve got the same company donating half-a-million dollars to a smear campaign against cannabis legalization in Arizona, where Insys is based, while simultaneously developing its own synthetic THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive component of cannabis) drug with full state and federal government approval. What a magnificent intersection of irony, hypocrisy, and corruption.
Meanwhile, given the way the War on Drugs is generally conducted in America, the only truly surprising event in this whole sordid affair is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation actually stepped in last year and arrested six former Insys executives, including the company’s one-time CEO, for allegedly “leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners to unnecessarily prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication and defraud healthcare insurers.”
Not to mention the countless people who got seriously hooked on Subsys. Throw in multiplelawsuits and a looming Congressional investigation, and it’s all taken a sizable toll on the company’s bottom line. On April 4, Insys reported a 41.6 percent decline in quarterly revenue, presumably the only negative outcome the company really cares about.
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