Pharma Execs Arrested in Conspiracy to Create Opioid Addicts for Profit*
By Isaac Davis
Just under the radar of the American dream is a terrible crisis ruining families, destroying communities and killing people who are just too young to die. Overdoses from opioids, synthetic opioid drugs, and heroin have become a genuine epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, swamping emergency services and creating a booming economy out of rehab.
There a number of causes to this problem, and while hardcore drug addiction may have complicated roots, there’s no denying that our society is absolutely flooded with many different types of opioid drugs. The market for legal and illegal opioids has become so huge that prescription pills and fake or hybrid pills are being mass-produced and shipped into the U.S. from places like China.
Furthermore, pharmaceutical makers have continued to develop stronger and stronger pain medications, and doctors are contributing by over-prescribing these drugs, but in a truly shocking case, several pharmaceutical executives have just been arrested for scheming to create addicts painkiller based on the strongest, most addictive, and most deadly synthetic opioid in the world today, fentanyl. So powerful, in fact, that many are calling it the ‘kill pill.’
“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]
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”
Details of the conspiracy, as outlined in the indictment and paraphrased by Slate include the following allegations:
- 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. Few things are more nefarious and diabolical than plotting to turn members of your community and nation into addicts, knowing full well their lives will be ruined, their families destroyed, and that it could very well kill them. All for money.
“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]
The evidence is revealing that the nation’s overdose crisis is a complex, multi-layered conspiracy, and the arrest of these conspirators is but one more piece of the puzzle.