McCaskill: How Insys pushed opioid sales

By:  Sam Baker

new report released by Sen. Claire McCaskill reveals how Insys, a pharmaceutical company, aggressively pushed its fentanyl product, Subsys, to increase the number and strength of prescriptions written for it.

Details, via Caitlin:

  • The model Insys used following the drug's approval in 2012 is strikingly similar to the one Purdue Pharma used, beginning in the 1990s, to market OxyContin.
  • It featured speaker programs in which doctors, paid by Insys, spoke with colleagues about the drug.
  • Sales representatives had large financial incentives to sell as much of the drug as possible via prescriptions, and higher dosages of the drug led to higher bonuses.

Between the lines: One illuminating email included in the report summarizes what appears to have been the mindset: “What drives us all? COMPENSATION," the national director of sales wrote to district sales managers in 2013.

  • The strategy was effective: Subsys prescribers tended to write more scripts and generate more revenue than other fentanyl prescribers.

Why it matters: While the new Insys CEO has called the company's previous actions "unacceptable," there's clearly been a pattern when it comes to marketing opioids.

  • "Just as Insys adopted and expanded methods Purdue pioneered, the next pharmaceutical company moving rapidly to establish market share in a crowded field may look to Insys as a model," the report says.