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Opioid maker used rap video to push powerful painkiller

Published: February 15, 2019
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Source: apnews.com

BOSTON (AP) — Employees at a drug company accused of bribing doctors rapped and danced around a person dressed as a bottle of the highly addictive fentanyl spray in a video meant to motivate sales reps to push the drug.

The video was shown to jurors this week in the closely watched trial in Boston of wealthy Insys Therapeutics Inc. Founder John Kapoor and four other onetime executives, including a former exotic dancer who prosecutors say was hired as a regional sales manager even though she had no pharmaceutical experience.

They’re charged with scheming to pay doctors bribes and kickbacks in exchange for prescriptions of the opioid meant for cancer patients with severe pain. Kapoor and the other former executives of the Chandler, Arizona-based company have denied all wrongdoing.

The video, titled “Great by Choice,” was shown during a national sales meeting in 2015 to encourage employees to talk doctors into prescribing higher doses, prosecutors said.

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Members of the multi-billionaire philanthropic Sackler family that owns the maker of prescription painkiller OxyContin are facing mass litigation and likely criminal investigation over the opioids crisis still ravaging America. Some of the Sacklers wholly own Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, the company that created and sells the legal narcotic OxyContin, a drug at the center of the opioid epidemic that now kills almost 200 people a day across the US.

A member of the family that owns Purdue Pharma — which is being sued by more than 1,000 jurisdictions for its alleged role in seeding the opioid crisis with its pain medication OxyContin — has been awarded a patent for a treatment for opioid use disorder.

The past two years have been a time of reckoning for pharmaceutical manufacturers over their role in promoting opioid drugs that have fed a national epidemic... But as public attention increases, the marketing tide may finally be retreating, a new ProPublica analysis shows. Pharmaceutical company payments to physicians related to opioid drugs decreased significantly in 2016 from the year before.

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