We’ve known for a long time that Big Pharma doesn’t have average American families best interests in minds, but recent developments have shown just how insidious some Big Pharma execs are, as some of them were just recently arrested for conspiring to create opioid addicts.
As pharmaceutical makers have continued developing stronger and stronger pain medications and doctors have helped by over-prescribing these drugs, the market share for opioids has taken off.
In a truly shocking case, however, some of the top execs have recently been arrested for scheming to create addicts for one of their most powerful and most addictive drugs, fentanyl.
“Fentanyl is an opioid. Its effect on the body is exactly like heroin, or any other opiate-based medication. But fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, up to 100 times stronger than morphine. It is stronger than any prescription painkiller on the market.” [Source]
Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts recently arrested six former pharmaceutical executives of Insys Therapeutics, Inc., manufacturer of a fentanyl based pain medication called ‘Subsys.’
According to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, the defendants…
“…conspired to bribe practitioners in various states, many of whom operated pain clinics, in order to get them to prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication. The medication, called “Subsys,” is a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense episodes of breakthrough pain. In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer.”
Slate offers the following details:
- Insys paid doctors to give educational lectures about the use of Subsys. That’s ostensibly legal, except that prosecutors allege that the company paid said doctors in direct proportion to the frequency with which they wrote Subsys prescriptions, with one Insys employee allegedly texting another that the doctors hired to give lectures “do not need to be good speakers” so long as they were high-volume Susbys prescribers. These “lectures,” meanwhile were allegedly often nothing more than dinners at high-end restaurants attended only by the doctors getting paid, the Subsys employees paying them, and the doctor’s friends. One Florida doctor is alleged to have made $275,000 in speaking fee bribes in three years.
- Insys allegedly continued to work with some doctors who prescribed Subsys frequently even after becoming aware internally that those doctors were known for running dubiously legal Dr. Feelgood “pill mills.” Wrote one Insys employee in an email about an Illinois doctor that the company would continue to work with and pay speaking fees to: “He is extremely moody, lazy and inattentive. He basically just shows up to sign his name on the prescription pad, if he shows up at all.”
- Insys allegedly hired support staff employees to mislead insurance companies into approving payments for Subsys prescriptions. These support staff employees allegedly misled insurers into believing they were interacting with representatives of doctor’s offices rather than representatives of Insys—employees were allegedly instructed to hang up the phone when insurers “pursued the identity of their employer.” These support staff employees are also accused of systematically falsifying specific diagnosis information—claiming patients had difficulty swallowing, for example—that they knew would make insurers more likely to authorize Subsys purchases.
Remarkably, pharmaceutical medications have become the gateway to heroin use, not the other way around, and in particular, Fentanyl, and derivative drugs are especially dangerous.
“The surge in opioid deaths is one of the reasons that United States life expectancy declined in 2015 for the first time in 22 years. In that same year, Insys reported a profit of $58.5 million.” [Source]
Looks like one more sign that the only thing Big Pharma can be trusted to do is make themselves money.