Supporters of a proposed Arizona law that would decriminalize marijuana use have criticized a recent donation by Insys Therapeutics – the manufacturer of the fentanyl sublingual spray Subsys – to a group campaigning against the law. Critics say that a $500,000 donation from Insys to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP) was made in an effort to boost a recently approved drug manufactured by the company based on a synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana.
In July 2016, the Food and Drug Administration approved Syndros, a drug developed by Insys to treat symptoms in patients with AIDS or cancer. Syndros is based on a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Insys is currently awaiting scheduling of Syndros from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Supporters of Arizona’s Proposition 205 – which would decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana in the state for individuals 21 years of age or older – say that Insys’s donation to ARDP was an attempt to “kill a non-pharmaceutical market for marijuana in order to line their own pockets”. Prior to the campaign donation, supporters of the Arizona ballot measure had outraised opponents of the bill by a 3-to-1 margin.
Insys has admitted that the financial prospects for Syndros could be harmed by efforts to legalize marijuana. In a recent SEC filing, Insys stated that the “legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of” Syndros.
Prop. 205 supporters also say that the Insys campaign contribution to ARDP undermines opponents’ arguments that marijuana legalization would harm public health. A 2014 study published by JAMA Internal Medicine found that opioid overdose deaths decline in areas where medical marijuana use has been decriminalized. “It’s difficult to understand how people who profit from selling a drug like fentanyl can keep a straight face while arguing that marijuana is just too dangerous to legalize,” says Tom Angell, a spokesperson for a group supporting Arizona Prop. 205.
The involvement of Insys in the debate over marijuana legalization in Arizona is not the first time that the company has been embroiled in controversy in recent years. Insys is facing state and federal investigations and a shareholders lawsuit over its alleged improper marketing of Subsys to doctors. A former sales representative with Insys pleaded guilty in February 2016 to participating in a kickback scheme that compensated doctors who prescribed the fentanyl sublingual spray to patients. State and federal authorities say that the kickback scheme encouraged doctors to prescribe Subsys in violation of FDA guidelines to patients who were not approved to use the drug.
Serious or potentially fatal health complications can result when patients are inappropriately prescribed powerful opioid medications such as fentanyl. If you or a loved one suffered an overdose caused by fentanyl or other opioid painkillers, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. The first step in taking legal action is consult with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are committed to helping patients and families affected by opioid overdoses caused by the inappropriate prescription of these medications. Our firm has represented numerous patients who have suffered complications from opioid painkillers. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch than all other firms in the U.S. combined, and has achieved verdicts and settlements in cases involving fentanyl totaling tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.
For a free legal consultation from an attorney to find out if you are eligible to file a fentanyl case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free case evaluation form located at the top of this page.