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New Jersey sues Insys over fraudulent opioid marketing scheme


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New Jersey sues Insys over fraudulent opioid marketing scheme

New Jersey's attorney general sued Insys Therapeutics Inc. accusing the drugmaker of engaging in a "greed-driven campaign of consumer fraud" and submitting false claims to health insurers to boost sales of its opioid Subsys.

The lawsuit, filed by state Attorney General Christopher Porrino in Middlesex County Superior Court, alleges that the company unlawfully directed its sales force to push prescriptions of the painkiller for a broader range of patients and at higher doses.

The FDA originally approved the drug to manage pain in cancer patients.

Porrino claims the company put "hundreds" of lives in jeopardy and led to the 2016 overdose death of a New Jersey woman who was prescribed Subsys.

"The conduct alleged in our lawsuit is nothing short of evil," said Porrino, adding that the opioid maker used "every trick in the book, including sham speaking and consulting fees and other illegal kickbacks," to increase profits from the drug's sales.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the same day that Insys would pay $500,000 to settle similar allegations. The drugmaker was accused by Healey of engaging in a scheme to illegally market Subsys and paying kickbacks to providers to urge them to prescribe the medicine.

"Fentanyl is a powerful and highly addictive drug with deadly consequences, yet this opioid maker aggressively marketed its product and made illegal payments to providers to boost sales," said Healey.

Healey's investigation found that between 2012 and 2014, Insys marketed the product for use in treating pain in noncancer patients, even though there is no evidence that Subsys is safe and effective for such use. The probe found that Insys also made misleading statements that Subsys was appropriate to treat "mild" pain, including citing a study that specifically states that it is only appropriate for "moderate to severe" so-called breakthrough pain in cancer patients.

Insys' compensation system also incentivized its sales agents to aggressively market Subsys for any and all potential uses regardless of the safety or efficacy of such use, according to the Massachusetts attorney general.

The suit and settlement come amid a series of federal and state investigations centered on Insys.

Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill's investigation into the company found that it sought to boost approvals for its opioid drug Subsys,"even for inappropriate, off-label uses."

A lawsuit alleging certain Insys execs bribed doctors to prescribe Subsys recently identified the company's founder, John Kapoor, as one of 80 unindicted co-conspirators.

In August, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich also filed a lawsuit against the company for allegedly committing fraudulent marketing schemes to increased the sales of Subsys.

Earlier in August, the drugmaker agreed to a $4.5 million settlement to resolve Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's claims that it deceptively marketed and sold Subsys. It is also facing a lawsuit from Anthem Inc. for allegedly engaging in improper practices to secure reimbursements for its opioid painkiller.