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Drug company accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe pain medication, committing insurance fraud
Posted 3 years ago
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On Thursday the billionaire owner of Insys Therapeutics was arrested and charged for bribing doctors and committing insurance fraud for the illegal distribution of Subsys, a Fentanyl under-the-tongue spray, meant for cancer patients.  Federal charges include: racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud, and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback law.

The indictment:

"As alleged, these executives created a corporate culture at Insys that utilized deception and bribery as an acceptable business practice, deceiving patients, and conspiring with doctors and insurers," said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. "The allegations of selling a highly addictive opioid cancer pain drug to patients who did not have cancer, make them no better than street-level drug dealers."
(via NBC News, "Billionaire Charged With Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Opioids")

Fentanyl is the same narcotic/opioid drug that Michael Jackson and Prince overdosed on.   It is 50-100 times stronger than morphine.  According to the artilcle Subsys is 100 times stronger than morphine and approved by the FDA to treat pateints with cancer and with pain which other narcotics could not mitigate.  A 30-day supply of Subsys costs anywhere from $3,000 - $30,000, so Insys scheme depended on tricking the insurance to pay for it.

But more than the monetary cost, is the cost on the health; it can be deadly:

Sarah Fuller was one of the patients who was prescribed Subsys even though she didn't have cancer.

In her case, it was chronic neck and back pain from two car accidents. And when her doctor prescribed Subsys, an Insys sales rep was sitting in the room with them, her father Dave Fuller told NBC News.

Within a month, Fuller's prescription was tripled. And 14 months after she started using the drug, she was found dead on a bedroom floor.

What killed her?

"Well, technically fentanyl," Fuller's still-grieving mother said. "But a drug company who couldn't care less about a human life. And, apparently, a doctor who didn't either."

Fuller's doctor has had her license temporarily suspended but denies responsibility for her death.

Sadly, Fuller is not alone.

FDA reports of adverse events and possible related complications include hundreds of deaths.
(via NBC News, "Billionaire Charged With Bribing Doctors to Prescribe Opioids")

First rule of doctors: do no harm.

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