Saddled with lawsuits and criminal investigations over its potent oral spray opioid Subsys, Insys Therapeutics lashed out against rival drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals alleging Teva intends to manufacture and sell a generic version of Subsys before Insys’ patent for Subsys expires. Insys filed the patent-infringement lawsuit against Teva in federal court in Delaware.
Insys hasn’t marketed any of its pharmaceuticals since 2015, after the company was slapped with lawsuits over its marketing of Subsys. Insys was accused of paying kickbacks to doctors to prescribe the drug for patients for whom it was not intended and for conning insurance companies to cover the cost of the pricey meds.
Subsys is a oral spray version of fentanyl, a narcotic so potent it is only approved for breakthrough pain in cancer patients already on round-the-clock opioids. Doctors have the authority to write prescriptions for conditions for which a drug is not approved, but drug companies cannot market medications for off-label uses.
Not only did Insys allegedly push Subsys for off-label uses such as back pain and fibromyalgia, they also pressured doctors to let them sit in during patient exams to discuss the opioid treatment, and convinced insurance companies to cover the expensive drug by not fully disclosing that its use was for anything other than breakthrough cancer pain.
Last week, U.S. Disstrict Judge Allison D. Burroughs set a trial date for six former Insys executives and managers to face charges for fraudulent marketing.
Fentanyl has been blamed for thousands of overdoses and deaths across the country and is contributing to the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.