Illinois Sues Controversial Drug Maker Over Deceptive Marketing Practices
Illinois’ attorney general has filed suit against Insys Therapeutics, accusing the controversial pharmaceutical company of using deceptive marketing practices — including paying an indicted doctor thousands of dollars for “sham” speaking events — to sell its signature pain medication.
It’s not unusual for drug makers to pay doctors who have histories of misconduct for consulting or speaking about their products. A recent ProPublica analysis found that more than 2,300 doctors with records of discipline in five states had received payments from drug and medical device companies since 2013.
Insys was one of more than 400 companies that made payments to such doctors, but its activities have received far more attention than those of its peers.
According to investigations in several states, Insys’ business model relied on funneling substantial payments to the doctors who most frequently prescribed its drugs, even if they had troubling disciplinary records or even criminal histories. These payments were mostly for services related to Subsys, a fentanyl-based medication approved by the FDA to treat patients suffering from cancer pain resistant to other types of opioid drugs.