"It wasn't about cancer patients. It was about getting as many people as you could on the drug." That's how a former sales representative for Insys Therapeutics describes the sales strategy behind the company's Subsys painkiller—a fentanyl-based nasal spray 100 times stronger than morphine.
It's one of the many eye-opening, sometimes infuriating, admissions captured in the PBS Frontline documentary Opioids, Inc., a 2020 production that exposes how a ruthlessly profit-driven pharmaceutical company misled insurers and effectively bribed doctors to prescribe ever-higher amounts and doses of its highly potent opioid formulation, with little regard for danger to patients.
The scheme, recounted on film by the former Insys employees tasked with carrying it out and the investors who profited from it, would eventually catch the eye of federal prosecutors and lead to the imprisonment of CEO and founder John Kapoor on racketeering charges. But the damage had been done to unwitting pain patients.
Watch the documentary, and then check out our Talk Sober Live interview with producer Nick Verbitsky, who has updates on the Insys case and others.