60 Minutes recently released a report about how pharmaceutical sales representatives at multiple Big Pharma companies bribed doctors to prescribe fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid.
Insys Therapeutics is one of the Big Pharma companies that faced significant legal issues due to their methodology in promoting and selling fentanyl to vulnerable physicians. Subsys, a fentanyl spray designed to be taken under the tongue, was just one drug misleadingly sold to physicians for patient prescriptions by Big Pharma sales representatives.
In an interview with 60 minutes, Alec Burlakoff, former Senior Vice President of Sales at Insys, stated that “Insys would pay some doctors – sales reps called them ‘whales’ – as much as $125,000 a year in bribes, camouflaged as Insys ‘speaker program’ fees [so they would prescribe these drugs to patients].”
Nathaniel Yeager and David Lazarus are two federal prosecutors that caught onto this illegal activity. Yeager told 60 minutes that “the doctor would just repeatedly invite her friends or his friends [who worked for Insys]… Rack up a big bar bill. And then get a check in the mail for it [paid by Insys].”
Burkaloff was sentenced to 26 months by a federal judge in January, and the $4.3 million he made at Insys was turned over. A dozen doctors connected to Insys crimes were also convicted.