One of the biggest causes of the nation's opioid crisis is the corrupt relationship between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. And a new indictment in New York has exposed just how bad the situation is.
Five doctors in the state of New York were recently charged with accepting kickbacks in exchange for prescribing dangerous opioids. In one case, a doctor was told that a pharmaceutical company would increase how much they pay him if he prescribed more people to their products. The doctor agreed, and became one of the highest prescribers for the company's new drug and (coincidentally!) became one of their highest paid promotional speakers.
The doctors were often paid over $100,000 per year in exchange for prescribing millions of dollars worth of prescription opioids. Most of the payments were made through the pharmaceutical company's, called Insys Therapeutics, speaker program. The so-called "speeches" the doctors gave were almost always at high-end restaurants with no educational speech given, with forged sign-in sheets to pretend an audience was present.
Insys has come under fire for promoting a drug called Subsys, which is a sprayable form of fentanyl. Fentanyl is a drug that is meant for cancer patients who experience pain that cannot be handled by other painkillers. But a study found that only one percent of prescriptions of Subsys were made by an oncologist.
Two Insys employees have pled guilty to charges related to the recent New York case and are complying with the investigation. Several Insys executives were also recently charged in Boston for crimes related to Subsys.
And yet you never hear Republicans go after Big Pharma in their "ambitious" anti-opioid proposals.
(h/t New York Times)