N. Carolina AG Stein files lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics over Subsys

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein filed a lawsuit against drug manufacturer Insys Therapeutics (INSY) alleging an extensive scheme involving kickbacks, deception and fraud in marketing its drug #Subsys.

Subsys is a spray form of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is approximately 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

Subsys is approved only for adult cancer patients who are already on round-the-clock opioids for pain, but experience additional, breakthrough pain and for whom no other pain medications are effective.

The lawsuit alleges that Insys gave illegal kickbacks to doctors for promoting and prescribing Subsys for non-cancer patients, including through a multi-million dollar speaker program that rewarded physicians who wrote prescriptions for the drug.

Insys employees also allegedly pushed doctors to switch patients who were being prescribed non-equivalent fentanyl prescriptions to Subsys, and often at a starting dose of up to twelve or sixteen times larger than the label directed.

Finally, the suit alleges that Insys deceived health insurers into covering Subsys prescription claiming Insys employees often posed as prescribers or their staff and invented medical histories for patients to ensure the drug would be covered.

Only about 10% of prescriptions for which Insys sought prior authorization from insurers were for patients with breakthrough cancer pain, the only use the FDA had approved.

INSY is down 18 cents to $7.02.


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