In 2015, executives from Insys Therapeutics played a parody video during the company’s national sales meeting. Employees rapped to the tune of A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin’ Problems” and encouraged sales staff to boost sales of its potent fentanyl spray Subsys. Toward the end of the video, the company’s former head of sales appeared dressed as a 1,600-microgram bottle of Subsys – the highest dosage available.
In retrospect, it probably wasn’t a great idea. The video became evidence this week in a racketeering trial against five former Insys executives, including the Subsys suit-wearing sales manager Alec Burlakoff. Former Insys CEO Michael Babich has previously pled guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud. He was on the witness stand when prosecutors played the video for jurors in Boston federal court hearing evidence in the racketeering case.
At one point in the video, Burlakoff and the employees sing “I love titration, yeah that’s not a problem!” Titration involves a process by which doctors increase a patient’s dose over time. Insys executives are accused of paying doctors to prescribe the highly addictive Subsys to patients in greater dosages, and for conditions in which the drug is not approved.
Subsys is indicated to treat breakthrough cancer pain in patients already on round-the-clock opioid treatment. Insys allegedly encouraged doctors to prescribe the drug for other conditions and lied to insurance companies about what the drug was being used for.
Insys’ Subsys have been linked to overdoses and has contributed to the nation’s opioid epidemic, which took the lives of more than 47,000 in the United States in 2017.