Several pharmaceutical executives and managers, formerly employed by Insys Therapeutics, Inc., were arrested yesterday on charges that they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners to unnecessarily prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication and defraud healthcare insurers. The medication, called “Subsys,” is a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense episodes of breakthrough pain. In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer.
Also yesterday, and following a three-month jury trial, Jeffrey Bado, formerly a physician with two practices in the Philadelphia area, was convicted in federal court of 308 felony counts. Evidence at trial showed that Bado had prescribed large amounts of oxycodone and methadone to clients of his practice outside the usual course of professional practice and without medical necessity. In one instance, Bado’s illegal drug distribution caused the death of a drug addicted patient. Bado was also convicted of health care fraud, having fraudulently billed Medicare and private insurers for patient visits that occurred when Bado was out of the country. Bado directed his staff to see patients, provide them with pre-signed prescriptions, and submit fraudulent insurance claims as if he had seen the patients himself. Bado was convicted of making false statements to federal agents concerning these billings.
Last, and we are sorry to report, that opioid deaths continued to surge in 2015, surpassing 30,000 for the first time in recent history, according to CDC data released Thursday.
That marks an increase of nearly 5,000 deaths from 2014. Deaths involving powerful synthetic opiates, like fentanyl, rose by nearly 75 percent from 2014 to 2015.