NJ Sues ‘Evil’ Painkiller Company in War on Opioid Addiction
TRENTON — New Jersey has joined with other states in suing an Arizona drug company behind a powerful opioid-fentanyl painkiller spray.
The suit alleges that Insys directed its sales force to have doctors prescribe Subsys for any type of chronic pain even though it was only approved for cancer patients who couldn't benefit from other opioids.
Attorney General Christopher Porrino said that "the conduct alleged in our lawsuit is nothing short of evil."
“We contend that the company used every trick in the book, including sham speaking and consulting fees and other illegal kickbacks, in a callous campaign to boost profits from the sale of its marquee drug Subsys,” Porrino said.
The company has previously said that the marketing of Subsys was appropriate.
The suit seeking financial damages says that Insys created false records to get insurers in the state to pay for prescriptions for people who didn't need it.
Arizona sued the company in August, and Illinois reached a $4.5 million settlement with the company.
More than 840 people in New Jersey died from heroin or opioid abuse in 2010 and more than 1,000 have died so far this year, the state says.
The number of people admitted to state-licensed or certified substance abuse treatment programs as a result of heroin or other opiates increased from 33,000 in 2012 to more than 38,000 in 2016, the state says.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 80 percent of new heroin users became addicted after using prescription pain medications.
The state says Insys raised the price of Subsys every year since its launch, selling $74.2 million in New Jersey from 2012 and the third-quarter of 2016.
New Jersey state employee health benefits plans paid about $10.3 million to reimburse Subsys prescriptions between 2012 and the third-quarter of 2016, the lawsuit says, while the State Worker’s Compensation Program paid $300,000 more.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.