Fraud: Pharma honcho pushes cancer opioids for patients who don’t have cancer

Chandler, Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics is a specialty pharmaceutical company. Last month, it made headlines when its founder, billionaire John Kapoor, was arrested on federal charges of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, and other felonies.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts, Kapoor was charged with “leading a nationwide conspiracy to profit by using bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a Fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients experiencing breakthrough pain.”

The medication in question, Subsys, is manufactured by Insys. It is considered as a powerful narcotic that should only be used in cases of extreme pain. Kapoor bribed doctors with speaker’s fees, entertainment, cash, and dinners, among other methods, to prescribe Subsys to non-cancer patients.

The oral spray of opioid fentanyl is highly addictive and was subjected to tightly controlled distribution systems. Due to this, regulators had to be notified about suspicious orders of the drug from pharmacies, manufacturers, and wholesalers. Even insurers had rigorous requirements for patients who were prescribed the medication.

However, it has been revealed that from 2013 to 2015, Insys has spent over $12.2 million for doctors’ speaking fees. In fact, one physician even received $229,640 for a “speaking event.” This is part of the cycle wherein Insys executives would bribe doctors to prescribe more and more Subsys, and in higher doses too.

Today, the firm’s third-quarter results show that it has missed its estimates as it set aside $150 million for litigation fees.

What’s the big deal?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about “90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids” every day. Aside from this, the economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the country is at $78.5 billion annually, which includes costs for lost productivity, healthcare, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

The same source goes on to say that in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies released more and more prescription opioid pain relievers like fentanyl with the premise that patients will not become addicted to them. Due to their efficacy, more and more healthcare providers began prescribing them. Soon, there is a widespread misuse and diversion of the drugs before the authorities found out that they were addictive. As a result of this drug misuse, opioid overdose rates increased. This culminated in 2015 when 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose. Meanwhile, 2 million Americans suffered from substance use disorder that is directly linked to prescription opioid pain relievers.

This, therefore, means that the opioid crisis in the United States is a serious burden both to the people and to the economy. Substance abuse is already widespread; in fact, many of those who died of prescription opioid pain reliever overdose are people who just got them from friends and relatives.

With people such as Kapoor even wreaking more havoc to an already complicated situation, it is no wonder that the opioid crisis is growing in traction. With the scams already exposed, we can only hope that the doctors will no longer prescribe the drugs to people who do not need them in the first place.

Do not fall victim to prescription drug abuse

With pharmaceutical companies partnering with big health organizations to promote pain-relief medications, more and more cancer patients are turning to unsafe drugs. If you are suffering from pain brought by unorthodox cancer treatments, know that there are other ways to try and recover from your disease without experiencing excruciating pain. Contact us at 480-666-1403 to know how.

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