A trial involving a former sales manager for drugmaker Insys Therapeutics Inc., accused of paying kickbacks to doctors to prescribe the company’s fentanyl-based opioid painkiller, has been pushed back to September, a Connecticut federal judge ruled.
Both the government and Jeffrey Pearlman had requested a delay of the trial, originally set for February, after new discovery responses and possible state charges poured in. Pearlman was also scheduled for back surgery.
The new trial date was set for Sept. 26, ample time for both parties to comb through hundreds of thousands of new documents, as well as for the Connecticut attorney general to decide whether to file criminal charges against Pearlman.
Pearlman was the third former employee of Insys to be charged in a scheme alleging sales representatives bribed physicians to prescribe its opioid spray, Subsys. The medication is only approved for breakthrough cancer pain. But the company pressured doctors to prescribe the drug for off-label uses, like back pain, the lawsuits allege.
Subsys contains a spray version of fentanyl is a particularly potent opioid. Like other opioids, the medication is highly addictive and carries serious and life-threatening risks. Drug companies that market opioids are currently under fire for fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Pearlman managed sales representatives in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island. He received substantial quarterly bonuses based on the sales of Subsys. The government claims that it ended up spending millions for these prescriptions because Insys representatives misled payers about the off-label use of the drug.