Pharmaceutical Company Accused of Bribing Physicians to Prescribe Fentanyl

pharmaceutical companies bribe doctors

One of the biggest reasons we have a huge and out-of-control opiate epidemic is due to overprescribing of opiates. Crooked doctors, money-hungry pharmaceutical companies, and devious sales reps all saw opiates as a great way to make a lot of money, regardless of the effect it would have on humanity. After the “pill mills” were shut down, unethical doctors were stripped of their licenses and sent to jail, and marketing practices by pharmaceutical companies were cracked down on, you would think we would start to see a drop in not only the sheer amounts of opiates being prescribed but also the shady drug manufacturers finding loopholes in marketing practices that allow them to keep up the same old behavior that got us into this mess in the first place.

But you’d be wrong.

The State of Arizona has filed suit against Insys Pharmaceuticals for allegedly paying doctors “speaker fees” who were willing to write a large number of prescriptions for their drug, Subsys, which is a fentanyl spray, greater than 50 times more potent than heroin. Not only is the State of Arizona investigating Insys, but the Federal government has stepped in and charged some of the company’s executives who allegedly bribed physicians to prescribe their drugs to people who clearly didn’t need them. Subsys is a drug that is only supposed to be prescribed for cancer patients and it seems that Insys Pharmaceuticals viewed it as more profitable to prescribe it to just about anyone.

Only three doctors, who have been named in the lawsuit, are responsible for the $51.9 million of Subsys prescriptions sold in Arizona over the last 5 years. The lawsuit against Insys also alleges the VP of sales and the reimbursement services manager participated in deceptive marketing practices and the physicians prescribing the drug concealed and withheld drug facts about Subsys when giving it to patients. Allegedly, the three doctors named in the lawsuit were each paid $200,000 and wrote about 1000 prescriptions. Furthermore, the VP of sales allegedly said Insys would not reward doctors with “speaker fees” unless they had at least 20 patients on their version of fentanyl.

All I have to say is, wow. How can this still be happening? The very thing that blossomed our current opiate crisis is continuing to occur and create new “customers.” New customers to get hooked on their drugs. New customers to eventually get on heroin. And new customers to go back onto “their drugs” when they want to get off the dope. It’s a bizarre and sick cycle. Start on the pharmaceutical company’s drugs, eventually get on heroin, only to go back onto the pharmaceutical company’s drugs.

Strange, isn’t it?

We can’t keep letting these drug companies get away with what they’re doing. I’m sure this company will have to pay a fine, get a slap on the wrist and that’s about it. When are we going to start to really hold these organizations responsible for perpetuating the drug problem? How many of our kids must die before they’re held accountable for what they’re doing?

How many?

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Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.