Arizona AG Files Suit Against Insys Therapeutics

Published: Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 8:48am
Updated: Friday, September 1, 2017 - 8:10am

Another lawsuit has been filed against one of the nation’s largest opioid drug makers, this time in its home state.

On Wednesday, the Office of Arizona’s Attorney General filed suit against Chandler-based Insys Therapeutics.

“We need to put a stop to the unethical and greedy behavior in the pharmaceutical industry that is fueling the opioid crisis in our state,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich, in his statement.

The lawsuit, filed against Insys, a former executive and three Arizona doctors, alleges the company engaged in a fraudulent marketing scheme designed to increase the sales of Subsys, an opioid-based, under the tongue spray containing fentanyl, designed for cancer patients.

Other accusations include lying to insurers and bribing doctors.

The Attorney General’s statement names Steve Fanto, Nikesh Seth and Sheldon Gingerich as doctors who allegedly collected sham educational “speaker fees” in exchange for writing prescriptions for Subsys.

Seth said he did get money from Insys Therapeutics to speak about its drug Subsys.

"They were educational programs that we were paid for, where multiple providers across the country and in the Valley attended," Seth said. "So they were actual legitimate speaker programs."

Brnovich said the three doctors were paid nearly $600,000. With their additional prescriptions, Insys was generating more than $25 million for the company.

The complaint also alleges that from March 2012 to April 2017, more than $33 million or 64 percent of Subsys sales in Arizona came from prescriptions written by the three.

Wednesday’s filing by Arizona’s Attorney General seeks an injunction against Insys’ sales practices, restitution for customers and civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation.

The suit mirrors those filed by others this month.

Insys agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the state of Illinois in early August.

The state of Missouri recently filed an investigation into opioid manufacturers. The Louisville Metro Government has also recently filed suit against opioid distributors in federal court.

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