In 2014, Forbes made "The Short Case for Insys Therapeutics," conceding that the company's sales performance compensation system was "a fairly dangerous way to market" its opioid products, but asserting that there would only be danger if "medical sales of this drug are leaking into the recreational market" and that "[p]harmaceutically pure opiates don't cause much harm to anyone at all."
Yesterday, Forbes reported that Insys has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after those marketing techniques led to federal civil and criminal investigations, the company pleading guilty to mail fraud, and its founder and three other executives being found guilty of racketeering conspiracy.
Insys sold $329 million worth of its fentanyl spray Subsys in 2015. Subsys was designed to target pain in adult cancer patients who are already receiving around-the-clock-opioid treatment. But federal prosecutors claim the company was bribing doctors and medical professionals to prescribe more and higher doses of the powerful opioid. Insys was allegedly pushing the drug on patients who didn't even have cancer. Sales plummeted as the legal issues mounted.
Last week, Insys agreed to pay $225 million to settle Justice Department investigations into those bribery allegations, according to Forbes. The company also pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud, and last month a federal jury found five executives, including billionaire founder John Kapoor, guilty of racketeering charges. Sales of Subsys were down to $58.6 million in 2018, and Forbes reported Insys stock was down almost 60 percent yesterday from where it closed last week at $1.31 per share.
"After conducting a thorough review of available strategic alternatives," new Insys CEO Andrew Long said in a statement, "we determined that a court-supervised sale process is the best course of action to maximize the value of our assets and address our legacy legal challenges in a fair and transparent manner."
The investigations into Insys signal a change in federal response to the opioid epidemic, shifting the focus from patients and addicts to doctors, drug sellers, and opioid manufacturers. Lawsuits against doctors and drug companies for opioid addictions and overdoses are on the rise. And cities, states, and even Native American nations are suing pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid crisis.
If you or a loved one has been over-prescribed OxyContin or another opioid, and developed an addiction or suffered an overdose, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your legal options.