Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Fueling the Opioid Epidemic: A “Key Strategic Imperative” for Insys #Pharma

Fueling the Opioid Epidemic: A “Key Strategic Imperative” for Insys #Pharma | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

In early 2015, an Insys Therapeutics employee called an insurer and provided misleading patient information in order to win clearance for a prescription for its Subsys painkiller. The conversation — in which the employee pretended to call from a physician’s office — was about a woman named Sarah Fuller, whose family later claimed she died because she was inappropriately prescribed the drug.

 

The phone call was made scarcely a year after a consultant warned the drug maker that it lacked needed policies for governing such activities, but Insys executives failed to take corrective action, according to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who released a copy of the consultant’s report and a recording of the phone call as part of an ongoing investigation into the opioid crisis (see report here: http://freepdfhosting.com/5deb5ac1db.pdf).

 

The details of both the phone call and the report help flesh out what is already a disturbing picture of unchecked pharmaceutical marketing that has emerged from a growing raft of documents in criminal cases and civil lawsuits involving the beleaguered drug maker. And the report arrives as opioid makers, in general, are accused of deliberately downplaying risks and improperly encouraging prescribing.

 

To boost prescriptions for Subsys, which contains the highly addictive fentanyl opioid, Insys allegedly employed numerous tactics. These included a familiar page from the pharmaceutical playbook in which some physicians were rewarded with speaking fees and other forms of compensation for writing outsized numbers of prescriptions, according to court documents.

 

Central to the Insys marketing plan, however, was a so-called reimbursement center, which was created specifically to contact insurers and persuade them to authorize prescriptions. In the health insurance world, prior authorization is an extra step that insurers use to weed out unnecessary prescribing. Often, this proves to be a challenging hurdle, especially when a medicine is pricey.

 

But Insys created this “center” because many insurers and pharmacy benefits managers often declined to green-light prescriptions that were not for breakthrough cancer pain patients. Authorities say the company sought to widen the market for its drug by illegally inducing doctors to prescribe the pill for other sorts of pain. This is known as “off-label” prescribing, which doctors are permitted to do.

 

An Insys spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

 

Further Reading:

Pharma Guy's insight:

A smoking gun if ever I saw one!

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Former Insys Sales Reps Bribed Docs To Prescribe Opioids To As Many Patients as Possible

Former Insys Sales Reps Bribed Docs To Prescribe Opioids To As Many Patients as Possible | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Two former sales reps pleaded guilty on Tuesday to bribing doctors in exchange for prescribing the powerful Subsys painkiller sold by Insys Therapeutics, which is under numerous investigations by state and federal authorities for its role in the opioid epidemic.

In both instances, the sales reps pleaded guilty to violating the federal anti-kickback law for participating in a speaker program that prosecutors say was used to reward doctors and other medical practitioners for prescribing Subsys, which contains fentanyl and carries a high risk of dependency.

Insys claimed its speaker program was designed to educate medical providers about its drug. But federal authorities maintained the primary purpose was to induce doctors to write prescriptions for as many patients as possible. The drug was approved only to treat people suffering breakthrough cancer pain.

 

Further Reading:

 

  • “Insys, Maker of a Fentanyl Opioid Spray, Donates $500K to Anti-Marijuana Campaign”; http://sco.lt/4vyNdJ
Pharma Guy's insight:

Insys is a "bad player" in the opioid market!

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