William Hemmings believed the sales representative with Insys Therapeutics Inc., when he said Hemmings was a “perfect candidate” for his company’s powerful opioid painkiller Subsys. Hemmings’ doctor had been treating him with “various narcotics and muscle relaxers” for a work-related injury that required multiple surgeries, but he was still in pain.
After Insys sales representative Nick Patel visited Hemmings’ doctor, the physician suggested Hemmings try Subsys. In April 2015, Patel came to the doctor’s office and assured Hemmings that the fentanyl spray would relieve his pain in as little as five minutes, and that he could use it several times a day as needed.
Hemmings tried Subsys but said he wasn’t getting relief. Patel told Hemmings to contact him directly and began shipping the drug directly to his home throughout 2016 and 2017.
He never told Hemmings or his doctor how addictive and dangerous Subsys was.
Hemmings said he became addicted to the drug, suffered mood swings, depression, anxiety, suicidality, hallucinations, impulsive behavior, and sleeping problems. Despite the side effects, Patel never suggested Hemmings discontinue the drug. Instead, he explicity told him not to reduce his intake or discontinue use.
Hemmings said had he known how “highly addictive or even potentially addictive” Insys was, he’d never have taken it.
In 2017, Hemmings discovered that Insys had contacted his insurance company’s pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts, and told them he had cancer in order for the insurance company to grant coverage of the drug. Subsys is only approved to treat breakthrough pain in cancer patients currently on round-the-clock opioid treatment.
Hemmings’ doctor took him off the drug last August after learning that Insys was embroiled in an alleged criminal scheme to boost sales of its highly potent opioid spray, including paying kickbacks to doctors and conning insurance companies into covering the cost of the drug. Hemmings filed a lawsuit against Insys accusing the company of illegally marketing the highly addictive drug, making him addicted to it – fueling the opioid epidemic – while covering up its dangers.