Insys calls opioid allegations 'unfair'
- After another state brought a lawsuit against it last week, Insys Therapeutics Inc. bit back, noting the turnover in its staff and unfairness of allegations.
- Last Thursday, New Jersey was the latest state to demonize the drugmaker, calling Insys "greed-driven" and accusing the company of false claims regarding its opioid Subsys.
- The lawsuit from New Jersey came on the heels of a settlement with Massachusetts over the same issue and lawsuits with other states as well.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misstated the proportion of Subsys sales that have contributed to the opioid epidemic.
Opioid drugmaker Insys isn’t happy with the recent spate of press it has received for its inappropriate marketing practices regarding the under-the-tongue opioid spray Subsys (fentanyl).
The company is accused of falsifying claims to insurers, as well as promoting the drug for off-label claims. Subsys is only approved to treat breakthrough pain in cancer patients who are tolerant to opioid treatment, but the company had been allegedly promoting the drug to a much wider group of pain patients.
While Insys has settled several claims from various states, the company believes it has done enough penance for its sins.
"We have taken a series of major actions to prevent the mistakes of the past from happening in the future," said Insys in a statement. "While understandable, it’s disingenuous to repeatedly demonize a company that has made a firm and sincere commitment and is taking all the necessary steps to conduct business according to high ethical standards. It’s also unfair to the company’s current employees, most of whom are new to Insys and had no involvement in the past misdeeds."
The company noted that it is under all new management now and that 90% of the sales force has been replaced with new reps that were not involved in the inappropriate promotion.
Insys also points out that sales of Subsys represented only 0.02% of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. in 2016 and the company is not one of the top 50 opioid manufacturers in the country.
The lawsuits and the Insys response are all part of the bigger issue of the opioid epidemic, which has been claiming lives across the U.S. as more and more people abuse and overdose on both illegal and legal drugs. Many opioid drug developers have come under fire for putting profits before people and pushing their drugs to unapproved patient populations.
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