EPIDEMIC

Report: Drug Company Faked Cancer Patients to Sell Opioid Medication

A pharmaceutical company specializing in “therapeutic solutions” engaged in an elaborate charade involving made-up cancer patients to sell a new opioid medication, congressional investigators say. A new report released by Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office Wednesday alleges that the company, Insys Therapeutics, falsified medical records, had employees pose as doctors’ office representatives, and blatantly misled insurance companies to push prescriptions of Subsys, its sprayable fentanyl medication. The company, which allegedly began the scheme in 2014, went so far as to mask its outgoing phone number so insurers couldn’t trace calls back to Insys Therapeutics, according to the report. In one episode detailed in the report, an Insys employee allegedly pretended to work for a doctor’s office to get Subsys approved for a New Jersey woman who did not actually have cancer. The woman reportedly later died after overdosing on the drug. The company has already faced criminal charges for its practices, with several former executives charged in December with what prosecutors described as a “nationwide conspiracy.” Those cases are still pending.