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Attorney General Josh Stein Sues Opioid Manufacturer Insys Over Medicaid Concerns

Release date: 5/21/2018

Lawsuits center on kickbacks and illegal marketing practices to sell a powerful fentanyl painkiller
 
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein moved to hold drug manufacturer Insys Therapeutics, Inc., responsible for its deceptive marketing and sales practices by intervening in two lawsuits accusing Insys of violating the Fair Claims Act. The schemes were used to increase prescriptions of Subsys, a highly potent fentanyl painkiller used to treat cancer. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent that morphine, and is highly addictive.
 
The complaint alleges that Insys paid kickbacks to entice doctors and nurse practitioners to prescribe Subsys to patients. These kickbacks ranged from speaker payments for phony speeches and jobs for family members and friends to lavish meals and entertainment. The complaint also alleges that Insys employees pushed prescribers to prescribe Subsys for patients who were not diagnosed with cancer, and lied to insurance companies about patient diagnoses to obtain Medicare and TRICARE reimbursements for Subsys prescriptions.
 
“In a reckless pursuit of profits, Insys used speaker fees to reward doctors for prescribing a powerful, addictive opioid to North Carolinians,” said Attorney General Stein. “They helped fuel a national opioid crisis that’s taken the lives of millions of Americans, and they cheated taxpayers. I will do everything in my power to hold Insys accountable.”
 
Attorney General Stein previously sued Insys over its marketing of Subsys under North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Today’s complaint was filed under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the state against a party that has allegedly submitted false claims to receive government funds, and to receive a share of any recovery.
 
Alongside the states’ joint intervention complaint, the United States also filed a complaint on April 13, 2018, to intervene in these lawsuits. These cases are being handled by the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Defense Health Agency.
 
Joining Attorney General Stein in the states’ intervention complaint filed in the Central District of California are the Attorneys General of Colorado, New York, Virginia, California, and Indiana.

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484
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