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6 Execs from Pharma Co. who Lobbied for Illegal Pot, Arrested for Bribing Docs to Push Deadly Fentanyl

Published: December 10, 2016
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Source: Matt Agorist

Insys Therapeutics, the company who makes insane profits from a drug behind one of the worst overdose epidemics in the nation’s history, fentanyl, is in hot water — again.

According to Reuters, six former Insys Therapeutics Inc executives and managers were arrested on Thursday on charges that they engaged in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe a drug containing the opioid fentanyl, U.S. prosecutors said.

Along with the executives, Michael Baich, the former CEO, was also charged in an indictment filed in federal court in Boston this week.

They have all been brought up on charges of racketeering for their scheme.

“Patient safety is paramount, and prescriptions for these highly addictive drugs, especially fentanyl, which is among the most potent and addictive opioids, should be prescribed without the influence of corporate money,” Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney in Massachusetts, said in a statement. “I hope that today’s charges send a clear message that we will continue to attack the opioid epidemic from all angles, whether it is corporate greed or street-level dealing.”

What makes this information so damning and hypocritical is that in September, the Free Thought Project helped to expose Insys Therapeutics for paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep marijuana, a plant that has never killed anyone, illegal.

That’s right, in a glaring display of hypocrisy, the maker of the drug Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray, claims that marijuana is dangerous because it could hurt children. At least that was their public reasoning for shoving $500,000 towards a campaign opposing marijuana legalization in the US.

These people not only advocated that pot is dangerous, but they were bribing doctors to prescribe a drug responsible for one of the most deadly epidemics in the history of the United States — for entirely unnecessary reasons.

About 129 people died each day nationwide in 2014 from a drug overdose and more than half of those were opioid, heroin, or fentanyl related, according to the DEA.

Insys has every reason in the world to despise legal weed as multiple studies now show that it is a great alternative for pain relief versus the highly addictive and deadly opioids.

According to a study that looked at 17 states with medical cannabis laws in place, researchers “found that the use of prescription drugs for which marijuana could serve as a clinical alternative fell significantly, once a medical marijuana law was implemented.”

Prescriptions fell dramatically for opioid painkillers, with 1,826 fewer doses being prescribed per year by the typical physician in a medical cannabis state. Amazingly, the trend also applied to prescriptions for depression, seizure, nausea and anxiety.

Insys has other reasons to fear this beneficial plant as well — because they are making a synthetic version of it.

According to a September report by the Intercept, Insys is currently developing a product called the Dronabinol Oral Solution, a drug that uses a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to alleviate chemotherapy-caused nausea and vomiting. In an early filing related to the dronabinol drug, assessing market concerns and competition, Insys filed a disclosure statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission stating plainly that legal marijuana is a direct threat to their product line:

Legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of any dronabinol product candidate. … If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.

It is apparent that the people at Insys are willing to go to extreme and unscrupulous lengths to maintain their market share — up to and including buying off doctors and politicians, as well as pushing a highly dangerous drug on people who may not need it.

According to the indictment of the executives, as reported by the NY Times, the six former employees, including the former chief executive, Michael L. Babich, and regional sales directors, offered bribes and kickbacks to pain doctors in various states in exchange for getting them to prescribe more of the company’s product, Subsys, a spray form of fentanyl. Subsys is supposed to be used only by cancer patients who are already on round-the-clock pain drugs.

The irony about the government’s choice to indict these Insys executives is that they are a small time company who has very little market share. If we compare Insys Therapeutics to the makers of OxyContin, for example, we can see a glaring difference as to how the two companies are treated by the government.

While Insys sits in court awaiting a much-deserved criminal indictment, the makers of OxyContin, the Sackler family, is rubbing elbows with the elite. 

As the DEA cracks down on fentanyl, the FDA announced last year that they approved the use of OxyContin, a similarly deadly drug, for use in children.

So, while the news of Insys getting busted for pushing their deadly drug on people who don’t need it is certainly worthy, the elite who make billions a year from peddling their deadly addictive drugs through pill mills across the US while fighting to keep cannabis illegal, remain quietly protected by the establishment and their immoral war on drugs.

 

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