Pharmaceutical company Insys allegedly pushed for higher doses of addictive opioids in order to spike sales, according to a recent report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s minority staff.
Shady Tactics To Spike Sales
Sales representatives for Insys were reportedly rewarded for pushing providers to write patients high-dosage prescriptions of Subsys, a fentanyl-based drug. These sales representatives were encouraged to “own” doctors, keeping track of how much they prescribe to both existing and new patients. Additionally, representatives encouraged doctors to prescribe Subsys and other opioids for off-label uses; in the case of Subsys, this translated to the drug being prescribed to non-cancer patients.
Physicians were also paid to promote Subsys to their peers. Physicians paid in this way were sometimes rewarded as much as $41,000 for recommending Subsys and other opioids to their patients, despite these prescriptions often having devastating consequences. Many patients have either overdosed or developed a severe addiction to opioids after doctors receiving these so-called “kickbacks” increased their patients’ dosages of these dangerous drugs. Some first-time patients saw dosage increases of thousands of milligrams over the course of a few months, escalating at a highly dangerous rate for the sake of generating revenue.
Perpetuating The Problem
This report on Insys’ dangerous and manipulative sales tactics comes in the midst of an already overwhelming opioid crisis nationwide. The misuse and excessive prescription of prescription painkillers like opioids has been shown to contribute to the increased use of other illegal substances. Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers similar to those being pushed by Insys.
Insys has previously paid over $150 million in fines after other government investigations into the company’s questionable sales tactics. Former doctors and executives associated with the company have also previously had charges brought against them. Whether further charges will be brought against the company directly remains to be seen.
This report may spell out a far shorter future for Insys, should these practices continue. If this pharmaceutical company and others like it refuse to follow ethical business practices when prescribing dangerous medications, the prognosis of Insys may begin to look grim.