Former Pharma Execs Accused Of Boosting Fentanyl Sales By Bribing Doctors With Sham Speaking Engagements

Fentanyl is an incredibly potent opioid painkiller; it acts quickly and powerfully, but doesn’t last as long as others, meaning its medical application is limited. So if you’re a drug company trying to boost sales of your new fentanyl spray, how do you sell more of a product that very few people have a real need for? You could bribe doctors with paid “speaking engagements,” take them out and show them the “best nights of their life,” all so they write prescriptions for patients who probably shouldn’t be getting your drug.

he DOJ alleges that, starting in 2012, former Insys CEO Michael Babich and his fellow defendants bribed and provided illegal kickbacks to at least ten physicians — mostly operators of pain clinics — in ten different states.

“In exchange for those bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of Fentanyl Spray prescriptions, most often for patients who did not have cancer,” notes the indictment. “The bribes and kickbacks took different forms, but were most frequently disguised as fees the Company paid the practitioners for marketing events.”

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