Ultra-potent opioid sold by ‘any means possible’ . . . . .
(AARON KESSLER, CNN) When Insys Therapeutics got approval to sell an ultra-powerful opioid for cancer patients with acute pain in 2012, it soon discovered a problem: finding enough cancer patients to use the drug.
To boost sales, the company allegedly took patients who didn’t have cancer and made it look like they did.
The drug maker used a combination of tactics, such as falsifying medical records, misleading insurance companies and providing kickbacks to doctors in league with the company, according to a federal indictment and ongoing congressional investigation by Sen. Claire McCaskill.
The new report by McCaskill’s office released Wednesday includes allegations about just how far the company went to push prescriptions of its sprayable form of fentanyl, Subsys.
Employees created an elaborate charade
Because of the high cost associated with Subsys, most insurers wouldn’t pay for it unless it was approved in advance. That process, likely familiar to anyone who’s taken an expensive medication, is called “prior-authorization.”
So Insys set up an elaborate charade — with employees that pretended to be doctors’ offices — to fool insurance companies into approving the drug, according to the Senate report.
Insys said in a statement that it disagreed with “certain characterizations in the staff report released today.”
“The report relates to activities of former employees of our company and matters that the company has addressed in its own efforts and in connection with investigations by the Department of Justice and state attorney general offices,” the company said, adding that “strengthening of our compliance program has been a significant focus for more than four years,” and that Insys had “invested significant resources in establishing an effective compliance program.”
The Senate report documented how beginning in 2014, when someone needed to obtain prior approval for a Subsys prescription, it was actually an Insys employee who called the insurer and its affiliates to persuade them. READ THE FULL STORY AT CNN.