A Rhode Island couple have filed an opioid lawsuit accusing Insys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and a local doctor of conspiring to overprescribe Subsys spray, a powerful and highly additive form of fentanyl.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Providence County Superior Court on behalf of Lisa and Angelo Mencucci, seeks compensation for emotional pain and life-long damage to Lisa’s nerves and nervous system.
The couple claims that Insys and Jerrold Rosenberg colluded in a nationwide scheme in which doctors would vastly overprescribe Subsys in exchange for kickbacks. Rosenberg and other doctors would then falsify medical records to ensure that insurance companies would cover the high cost of the drug.
The Mencucci’s further assert that Rosenberg was the leading prescriber of Subsys in Rhode Island and ranked as one of the top prescribers nationwide.
According to the Providence-Journal, Rosenberg had previously admitted to taking $188,000 in kickbacks from Insys in exchange for prescribing Subsys. In a settlement with federal prosecutors, he also agreed not to practice medicine and plead guilty to one count each of health-care fraud and conspiracy to receive kickbacks.
Subsys Spray came to market in 2012 and was only approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to treat cancer patients suffering from intolerable levels of pain. Fentanyl, the active ingredient in Subsys is 80-times more powerful than morphine and 50-times more powerful than heroin. As such, the highly-addictive drug may only be prescribed by a medical practitioner registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The U.S. Department of Justice is currently pursuing criminal charges against several former Insys executives, including billionaire founder John Kapoor, for allegedly conspiring to mislead and defraud health insurance providers reluctant to approve payment for Subsys when it was prescribed for non-cancer patients.
According to a U.S. Senate report released last year, Insys employees would call insurers using a carefully worded script intentionally designed to leave the impression that they were calling from a physician’s office. The script also allowed employees to suggest that patients being prescribed Subsys had cancer without explicitly saying so.
Following Kapoor’s arrest last October, Insys announced it was cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice and had set aside $150 million for a possible settlement.
A number of other states are pursuing their own Subsys lawsuits. In August 2015, Insys agreed to pay $1.1 million to the state of Oregon to resolve allegations that it deceptively promoted Subsys spray for non-cancer conditions. A similar lawsuit was settled by the state of New Hampshire in January 2017.