A lawsuit between two companies in Florida is the first of it’s kind, and it could change the way drug companies are held responsible for their products.
Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers, a family-owned company in central Florida, alleges that Insys Therapeutics, one of the largest sellers of Fentanyl-based painkillers, is guilty of a “massive fraud scheme and criminal enterprise to obtain money from Wayne for illegally prescribed painkillers through Wayne’s employee health insurance plan.”
These allegations stem from the fact that the wife of a Wayne employee became addicted to a powerful pain medication allegedly prescribed to her despite the fact that she did not qualify for such a prescription: Subsys, the drug in question, is reserved from people with late-stage breakthrough cancer pain. The patient in question was never diagnosed with any form of cancer, and allegations state that documents were falsified in order to get the prescription and the resulting money from Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers via the health insurance provided through UMR and OptumRx.
Both insurance companies are also defendants against allegations of “illegal prescribing and dispensing of Subsys with the sole motivation of financial gain including kickbacks.”
This particular case alleges that the insurance companies, Insys Therapeutics, and the primary care provider for the patient in question- Dr. Edward Lubin of Gessler Clinic- worked in tandem, placing profit over the wellbeing of their clients. Gessler Clinic has stated that patient care is their first priority, and they intend to respond to the allegations against them and see it resolved in their favor.
In late 2014 UMR and Optum Rx acknowledge that an investigation revealed that records show no diagnosis of cancer for the Wayne employee’s wife, but Wayne alleges their investigation only occurred after they pressed their concerns over a long period of time.
As for Insys Therapeutics, they have been in the crosshairs of many investigations and allegations regarding their sales and marketing practices over the last few years. While it is legal for doctors to prescribe medications for uses not described on the labeling, drug companies are not allowed to market their medications for anything other than the described intended use; allegedly, Insys has made quite a large amount of money (some $330.8 million in 2015 alone) doing just that.
The patient at the center of all of this is reportedly suffering from a debilitating substance abuse disorder as a direct result of using Subsys, which accounts for a vast majority of Insys Therapeutics’ profit. Wayne Automatic Fire Sprinklers claims to have paid $200,000 for Subsys prescriptions.
As mentioned earlier, Subsys is a fentanyl-based pain medication, making it over 100 times stronger than morphine and extremely addictive. Fentanyl has also been tied to heroin abuse and the sudden spike in heroin-overdose deaths in Florida. The opiate can be extremely lethal when used in combination with other substances or alone.
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