A former employee of the pharmaceutical company Insys is blowing the whistle on their unethical marketing practices. Patty Nixon used to be a sales representative for Insys. She was fired after she could no longer bring herself to show up for work and lie to insurance companies.
Insys Therapeutics makes and sells one medication: Subsys. The drug was created to give pain relief to cancer patients whose pain could not be managed by narcotics alone. The main ingredient in Subsys: fentanyl, a painkiller 100x more powerful than morphine.
“My job responsibilities were to contact insurance companies on behalf of the patients and the doctors to get the medication approved and paid for by their insurance companies”, Nixon said in a recent interview. “I would say ‘Hi, this is Patty. I’m calling from Dr. Smith’s office. I’m calling to request prior authorization for a medication called Subsys.”
To push prescriptions, which costs between $3000-$30000 a month, through, Nixon’s bosses told her to lie. In order to convince insurance companies that the prescription was medically necessary, she would give diagnosis codes for conditions that the patient didn’t have, and mention cancer treatment records that didn’t exist.
Six high-level Insys employees have been indicted for racketeering by a federal grand jury after evidence of their illegal practices came to light. Insys former CEO Michael Babich was also indicted for fraud and conspiracy.
Hundreds of deaths have been attributed to Subsys, according to FDA reports.