Executives at a major opioid company, Insys Therapeutics, were found guilty on Thursday of a federal jury for ordering, among other misdeeds, bribes that prescribed their fentanyl-based painkillers – another sign that the government and the public in Increasingly willing to blame individuals and companies for their role in the nationwide opioid epidemic.
The verdict includes the company's founder, John Kapoor, and four other executives: Richard Simon, former national sales manager; Sunrise Lee, former regional sales manager; Joseph Rowan, also former regional sales manager; and Michael Gurry, former vice president of managed markets. The responsible persons were found guilty of the criminal machinations.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors had put forth extensive efforts to sell as much of his potential opioid analgesic as possible beyond his approved use for cancer pain. According to the New York Times, the prosecutors accused the company of paying out doctors ̵
At one point, Insys also produced a rap video for subsys. (One of the lines in the song is that they are "always the way we should be." Apparently not.)
After fifteen days of deliberations, the federal jury found all five executives guilty. The charges also include the possibility of imprisonment.
This is not the first time that an opioid company has been convicted of indictment. In 2007, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and three of its top executives paid more than $ 630 million in fines for misleading marketing. The three executives were also convicted and each sentenced to three years' probation and 400 hours of civilian service.
Last month, federal state prosecutors prosecuted a major drug distributor, the Rochester Drug Cooperative, for their role in continuing the opioid crisis. 19659008] And this week, another drug distributor, the McKesson Corporation, has reached an agreement with West Virginia in an opioid trial for $ 37 million.
The recent ruling against Insys and the lawsuits against Rochester are part of a wider effort to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable – in lawsuits, fines and charges – for their involvement in today's drug dossier crisis, which is the deadliest in the world History of the USA is.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the companies. Several states are suing each other individually and Oklahoma has recently reached another legal settlement with Purdue. A separate collection of some 1,600 lawsuits, mostly from various levels of government, was consolidated by a federal judge in Cleveland to try to find a groundbreaking legal solution to the opioid epidemic.
The successful case against Insys suggests that courts and juries are ready to punish the companies involved.
Since 1999, more than 700,000 people have died from drug overdoses in the US, mainly due to an increase in opioid deaths. This is comparable to the number of people currently living in big cities like Denver and Washington, DC. Some estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands may die from opioid overdose in the next decade alone.
The hope that legal action against manufacturers of opioids and producers will be enforced is not just to hold them accountable, which alone can help drug companies behave in the future, but also to get paid whether through fines or other legal payments – that could be used to pay for an addiction treatment. The addiction treatment is known to be underfunded in the US. Experts in recent years have called on the federal government to invest tens of billions of dollars in building a treatment infrastructure. (By comparison, a study by the Council of White House Economic Advisers in 2017 related one year of the opioid crisis to $ 500 billion in economic losses.)
An agreement of $ 37 million is only a drop in this one Range, as well as the fines and bills paid by other companies (including Insys). However, with companies such as Purdue, Rochester, McKesson, and Insys helping to inflict and perpetuate the opioid crisis, advocates argue that they should at least help pay for the consequences of the epidemic.
How opioid manufacturers and distributors have helped cause the opioid epidemic  The opioid epidemic can be understood in three waves. In the first wave, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, doctors prescribed many opioid analgesics. As a result, the drugs developed into widespread abuse and addiction – not only to patients, but also to friends and family, to adolescents who had taken the drugs out of their parents' medicine cabinets, and to people who had surplus on the black market Pills bought.
A second wave of drug overdose began in the 2000s when heroin flooded the illegal market. Drug traders and traders took advantage of a new population of people who used opioids but either lost access to painkillers or simply sought a better, more affordable high. And in recent years, the US has seen a third wave as illegal fentanyls provide an even more effective, cheaper and deadlier alternative to heroin.
It's the first wave that has triggered the opioid crisis – and where opioid makers and distributors are coming.
Medication manufacturers misleadingly labeled opioid analgesics as safe and effective. Several studies examined the marketing and distribution of opioids with abuse, addiction and overdoses. Opioid producers such as Purdue Pharma, Endo, Teva and Insys are all accused of playing a role here.
As stated by a group of public health experts in the Annual Review of Public Health companies outperformed the benefits and safety of their products, supported advocacy groups and "education campaigns" that promoted the widespread use of opioids and lawmakers hired to ease access to drugs.
The result: The sale of opioids also increased addiction and overdoses. 19659022] As sales of opioid painkillers increased, more people became addicted – and died. "data-upload-width =" 908 "src =" https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/bfp0KFWNcvXXyDeS5Yc92fxCz3w=/0x0:908×694/1200×0/filters:focal(0x0:908×694):no_upscale()/cdn .vox cdn.com / uploads / chorus_asset / file / 5999533 / opioid% 20trend.png "/>
Annual Review of Public Health
Insys came into play a bit late, with subsys coming onto the market in 2012. In this way, it benefited from the previous misconduct of opioid companies that had laid the foundations for the expansion of prescriptions of opioids.
It's not just that the opioids were deadly; They were also not as effective at chronic pain that is not cancer, companies said. There is very little scientific evidence that opioid analgesics can effectively treat long-term chronic pain as patients become more tolerant to the opioid effects. However, there is much evidence that prolonged use can lead to very serious complications, including an increased risk of addiction, overdose. and death. In short, the risks and disadvantages outweigh the benefits for most chronic pain patients.
With drug overdoses now bound to tens of thousands of deaths each year, various levels of government, as well as private groups and individuals, are trying to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the opioid crisis. That's why Thursday's message about the verdict against the leaders of Insys is a big deal: it shows that the broader effort to hold these companies accountable can really work.
For more information on the lawsuits against opioid companies, see Vox's explanations.