Drug maker Insys Therapeutics Inc., is facing more legal woes over marketing of its fentanyl-based opioid Subsys, with a lawsuit filed by the state of New Jersey accusing the company engaged in a “greed-driven” campaign of consumer fraud and false claims to insurance carriers in an effort to boost sales of Subsys.
The lawsuit was filed in Middlesex County Superior Court by New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs, a branch of the state’s Division of Law and Public Safety. The complaint accuses Insys of unlawfully directing its sales reps to push Subsys prescriptions outside its narrow indication for breakthrough pain in cancer patients, according to a statement by Attorney General Christopher Porrino.
Subsys is a spray version of the highly potent opioid fentanyl, and a one-month supply costs more than $4,000. It is only indicated for breakthrough pain in cancer patients already on round-the-clock opioid treatment, but Insys reps were promoting the drug for other types of pain including chronic back pain. New Jersey’s complaint claims that in doing this, Insys has put “hundreds” of lives in jeopardy and “led to the death of at least one New Jersey resident,” a 32-year-old woman who was treated with Subsys for back pain.
The lawsuit also alleges that two New Jersey state employee health benefit plans paid a total of about $10.3 million to reimburse Subsys prescriptions from 2012 to 2016, and that the state workers’ compensation program paid an additional $300,000.
Insys is currently facing a federal indictment and ongoing congressional investigation over claims that it paid kickbacks to doctors and conned insurance companies into thinking that the drug was for breakthrough cancer pain when it was not.
Last December, six former Insys executives including is former CEO were slapped with criminal charges of fraud and racketeering related to the marketing of Subsys. Other federal charges have been brought against others involved in the sale of Subsys, and several state attorneys general have also filed lawsuits.
New Jersey Law Journal