An executive for a large pharmaceuticals company found out the hard way that crime doesn’t pay. Now he is looking at hard time – 33 months, to be exact.
The former vice president of managed markets for Insys Therapeutics was sentenced last month in federal court for his role in bribing doctors to prescribe unnecessarily a powerful fentanyl-based pain medication, Subsys, which is used to treat cancer patients suffering from intense pain.
Our office and other law enforcement agencies jointly investigated the case, which became the first to result in sentencing an executive in connection with conspiracy to bribe health professionals to prescribe highly addictive opioids. In addition to bribing practitioners at pain clinics, the executive directed employees to use what he called “the spiel,” a misleading script to trick insurers into believing Subsys had been prescribed for cancer patients even when it hadn’t. Insurers were more likely to pay for Subsys when prescribed for breakthrough cancer pain.
This case is one of many our special agents investigate regularly around provider fraud, which increasingly involves opioids. Last year, we were instrumental in the largest recovery by the United States in a case concerning an opioid drug. Global consumer goods conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser Group plc (RB Group) agreed to pay $1.4 billion to resolve potential criminal and civil liability related to a federal investigation of the marketing of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment drug.
Our office has had to focus increased attention on illicit narcotics, which is rapidly becoming one of our greatest areas of investigative focus. But it’s not just investigations. We have done audits around opioids in the mail, such as looking at ways to reduce the vulnerabilities in the international mail system. And we studied the impact of opioids prescriptions in a 2019 audit report on opioids for postal employees in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Federal Employees’ Compensation Act Program.
We encourage you to help us in the fight against illicit opioids. If you suspect wrongdoing by a Postal Service healthcare provider, employee, or contractor, please contact our office immediately.