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Home / Health / Minnesota AG sues the drug maker for "outrageous", "blatant" opioid marketing tactics

Minnesota AG sues the drug maker for "outrageous", "blatant" opioid marketing tactics



A drug company accused of "greedy" high-pressure sales tactics to promote unauthorized applications of a strong fentanyl opioid spray and make pseudo-lectures to pay kickbacks to Minnesota doctors who ordered it

Lawsuit filed Wednesday, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said that Insys Therapeutics violated federal laws that prevent off-label marketing of prescription drugs, and ruthlessly promoted a drug that should only be used to manage intense cancer pain.

It appears that the company plays games with the lives of patients, "she said.

Documents obtained through subpoena outlined how Insys salespeople were trained to aggressively promote the drug, Subsys, for For purposes beyond cancer, higher initial doses than recommended by the federal government, and to cling to physicians who were prone to marketing influence.

"They call them golden gemstone doctors," Swanson said.

The laws uit, filed with the Hennepin County District Court, builds on other measures against Phoenix-based insiders whose founders and top executives in Massachusetts have been charged with alleged bribes over the past two years to persuade doctors to use their drug 1

9659002] It also occurs in the midst of a rising rate of overdose deaths related to opioids, especially to fentanyl – which are significantly stronger than most is a prescription opioid analgesic and heroin.

Swanson said her office is considering taking legal action against other opioid manufacturers, but that she specifically blamed this company for marketing tactics she called "outrageous" and "blatant."

Commercial agents were encouraged to "gain big" by selling as much of the drug as possible, according to a message from the company

"Winning Big?" Swanson said. "This kind of talk has no place in medicine."

In a written statement, Insy's reforms promised: "Our new management team takes the allegations of past misconduct of former employees with the utmost seriousness and has focused intensely on achieving the highest respect for fundamentally healthy values ​​among all over 300 present ones Employees of the Company. "

Federal law allows doctors to prescribe drugs for purposes other than their stated purposes, but does not allow the pharmaceutical company to market them" off-label. " Minnesota also bans most gifts from pharmaceutical companies to doctors, and the lawsuit alleges that this state law has been violated.

Insy's agents appeared to be holding "sham" training sessions, mostly one-on-one with physicians to promote the drug, said Cody Wiberg, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy. In addition to joining the lawsuit, the pharmacy board filing administrative claims in Minnesota against Insys and its pharmaceutical licenses in the state.

Two physicians received the majority of payments in recent years from Insys branded for attending several sessions as educational sessions, Swanson said. "These two doctors became Minnesota's top prescribers."

Swanson said she shared the identities of these physicians with the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice.

A Star Tribune review of Medicare open payment records found that Insys almost paid $ 70,000 to Minnesota doctors between 2013 and 2016. Most of it went to two pain specialists, none of whom are oncologists. One in St. Paul received $ 36,000 and another in Edina received $ 17,000,

Company records show that at least 17 Minnesota physicians prescribed subsys between 2013 and mid-2017. Eighty percent of the prescribed doses were above the federally recommended starting dose.

Subsys is approved to treat cancer pain, Swanson noted, but only for cancer patients who are already taking other opioids and still find the pain intolerable. It is administered as a spray under the tongue.

It is unclear whether any cases of recent fatal opioid overdose in Minnesota were specifically attributable to subsys, said Wiberg, but the spray formulation would make it an attractive target for abuse. [Minnesota Ministry of Health] reported deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioid overdose increases by 74 percent from 2016 to 2017 earlier this month.

According to Insys, Subsys prescriptions accounted for a fraction of opioid use. While 650,000 people received opioid prescriptions in 2015, only 44 received subscriptions this year.

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