Insys Therapeutics – the manufacturer of the prescription fentanyl sublingual spray Subsys – has agreed to pay $2.9 million to settle a lawsuit filed in New Hampshire over the company’s marketing of the drug. The lawsuit, which was filed against Insys by the New Hampshire attorney general, accused Insys of aggressively marketing the fentanyl spray to New Hampshire residents.
Subsys was approved by the FDA in 2012 for the treatment of serious pain in opioid-tolerant cancer patients. Because of the extreme potency of fentanyl – which is about 80-100 times more powerful than morphine – Subsys and other fentanyl products are not intended for patients with mild or moderate pain, or who have not already been treated with opioid painkillers.
However, according to the New Hampshire lawsuit, Insys aggressively promoted the Subsys fentanyl spray to patients who were not eligible to take the drug under FDA guidelines. New Hampshire attorney general Joseph Foster said that Insys paid Christopher Clough, a physician’s assistant at a New Hampshire pain clinic, $44,000 for 40 speaking engagements where he promoted Subsys.
According to the New Hampshire lawsuit, Clough went on to become the highest prescriber of Subsys in the state, and one of the leading prescribers of the fentanyl spray in the entire country. Over a two year period, the physician’s assistant wrote 760 prescriptions for the fentanyl spray, representing about 84% of all Subsys prescriptions in the state of New Hampshire.
An investigation conducted by the New Hampshire attorney general’s office found that most of the speaking engagements sponsored by Insys were designed to provide payments to prescribers in order to write prescriptions for Subsys. Many of these speaking engagements were not attended by anyone who was eligible to prescribe the fentanyl spray; most were only attended by Clough’s friends and colleagues at the pain clinic, the attorney general’s office alleged.
The settlement in the New Hampshire lawsuit against Subsys comes at a time when the state is struggling to manage an epidemic of opioid overdoses, many of them caused by fentanyl products. New Hampshire has the highest per capita death rate for opioid overdoses in the U.S. About 72% of these opioid overdoses were caused by Subsys or other fentanyl products.
In addition to the $2.9 million settlement, Subsys also agreed to pay $500,000 to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. This amount will be used to prevent and deal with problems caused by abuse and addiction involving opioid medications in New Hampshire.
If you or a loved one have suffered an overdose caused by the fentanyl spray Subsys or other fentanyl products, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or the doctor who prescribed the drug. The first step in taking legal action is to talk with an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and guide you through the first steps in filing a claim.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are committed to helping patients and their families who have been affected by doctors and medical facilities that irresponsibly prescribe fentanyl or other opioid medications. Our law firm 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 fentanyl lawsuits filed on behalf of our clients totaling tens of millions of dollars.
For a free legal consultation 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. You can also reach us by filling out the free case evaluation form located at the top of this page.