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Thread: Pennsylvania sues Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma, says it targeted elderly and vets

  1. #76
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    https://www.npr.org/2020/01/23/79897...ison-in-opioid

    One of the Leaders of the Opioid Abuse scandal has been convicted for corruption

    Former billionaire and pharmaceutical executive John Kapoor has been sentenced to five years and six months in prison. His sentencing is the culmination of a months-long criminal trial in Boston's Moakley U.S. Courthouse that resulted in the first successful prosecution of pharmaceutical executives tied to the opioid epidemic.

    The 76-year-old is the founder of Insys Therapeutics, which made and aggressively marketed the potent opioid painkiller Subsys.

    Kapoor's 66-month prison term is substantially less than the 15-year sentence recommended by federal prosecutors, but it is more than the one year requested by Kapoor's defense attorneys, who maintained the executive's innocence and stressed his old age as reason for a short prison sentence.

    U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs explained that she reached the lesser sentence after considering Kapoor's advanced age and philanthropy, as well as "his central role in the crime," The Associated Press reported.

    Kapoor and four other executives were found guilty last year of orchestrating a criminal conspiracy to bribe doctors to prescribe the company's medication, including to patients who didn't need it. They then lied to insurance companies to make sure the costly oral fentanyl spray was covered.

    The painkiller, which was intended for cancer patients, could cost as much as $19,000 a month.

    Two other executives pleaded guilty and became cooperating witnesses.

    The other executives received between one year and 33 months, significantly less than many of the prison terms recommended by the federal prosecutors.

    Opioid Executive John Kapoor Found Guilty In Landmark Bribery Case
    NATIONAL
    Opioid Executive John Kapoor Found Guilty In Landmark Bribery Case
    Earlier on Thursday, Insys sales chief Alec Burlakoff was sentenced to 26 months in prison for his role in the bribery and fraud scheme.

    "This was an offense of greed," Burroughs said before sentencing Burlakoff.

    The sales executive hired a stripper as a Subsys sales representative to help persuade doctors to boost prescriptions. The woman, named Sunrise Lee, eventually was promoted to oversee a third of the company's sales force.

    "I didn't think of who we were at Insys and how unethical what we were doing was," he told the judge on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. "The only thing I could think was how could I keep up with the fast and furious pace necessary to get ahead."

    Opioid-Maker Insys Admits To Bribing Doctors, Agrees To Pay $225 Million Settlement
    NATIONAL
    Opioid-Maker Insys Admits To Bribing Doctors, Agrees To Pay $225 Million Settlement
    For the federal government, this was a landmark trial in which corporate executives were charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a charge often reserved for mob bosses and drug lords. Experts saw the trial as sending a message to drug companies that they will be held criminally accountable for their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis.

    "I think this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Brad Bailey, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney who has been following the Insys trial closely. "It's a template that prosecutors will continue to use."

    While these seven Insys executives have been in court and awaiting sentencing, the company entered into an agreement with the government to settle criminal and civil investigations. Insys agreed to pay $225 million and admitted to the kickback scheme. Shortly after the agreement was announced, the company filed for bankruptcy.

    Insys Files For Chapter 11, Days After Landmark Opioid Settlement Of $225 Million
    LAW
    Insys Files For Chapter 11, Days After Landmark Opioid Settlement Of $225 Million
    Bailey said that between the prison sentences and the company's financial woes, "there's no question that this was a cautionary tale to all executives."

    Ameet Sarpatwari, a physician and the assistant director of Harvard University's Program on Regulation, Therapeutics, and Law, thinks this trial will have a chilling effect on the pharmaceutical industry.

    "It's an important warning to other pharmaceutical manufacturers and executives who may be considering pushing their products through aggressive, and possibly legally dubious, marketing schemes," said Sarpatwari. "The consequences for such actions may not simply be fines — which has historically simply been the cost of doing business — but possibly jail time."

    However, he said, this successful prosecution does not mean the practices that contributed to overprescribing and addiction to opioids will go away.

    "A lot of the activities that you see within the industry that are effective are technically legal. And so, if that's the case, is this going to curb those aggressive tactics? No, but it will give second thought to pushing the boundaries," said Sarpatwari. "I think that is going to be the hopefully helpful fallout of the case."
    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alec-bu...es-2020-06-21/


    This Sunday, 60 Minutes continues its groundbreaking investigative series on the American opioid epidemic and interviews Alec Burlakoff, a former top executive at Insys Therapeutics.

    Pharma execs used strip clubs, broke FDA laws to boost opioid sales
    The opioid epidemic: Who is to blame?
    Insys, the Arizona-based maker of opioid painkiller Subsys, filed for bankruptcy in January 2020. After a 10-week trial in a Boston federal court, Burlakoff, CEO John Kapoor and six other executives were sentenced to prison for their part in a racketeering scheme based on a conspiracy to recklessly and illegally boost profits from Subsys, a potent, fast-acting fentanyl intended for cancer pain patients. This landmark criminal case was the first to bring pharmaceutical executives to trial for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic, potentially indicating a shift in how the government approaches white collar crime.

    60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker sat down with Burlakoff before his sentencing in January, after he had testified about the illegal sales tactics he employed at Insys.

    Burlakoff explained the inner workings of the company, and what it took to be a top sales executive at what prosecutors would come to call an organized criminal enterprise.

    "There's a story behind each story, but I got real sick in high school," Burlakoff said.

    He was diagnosed with a bacterial infection, was treated for three years and then began to see a therapist, getting "a taste of what therapy can do for you."

    "I knew what it was like to be sick every day, and wake up feeling ill every day, and go to bed ill every day," Burlakoff said. "I made a decision that if this is how I have to live the rest of my life, quite frankly, I don't want to live."

    Burlakoff, whose father and brother were successful car salesmen, chose to major in child psychology, get a master's degree in social work and begin what he found to be a rewarding career as a school guidance counselor. How did he make the leap to pharmaceutical sales? One incident stands out in his mind:

    From that moment, Alec Burlakoff's life took a sharp turn. His first sales job was at Eli Lilly, an American pharmaceutical giant. Burlakoff began selling Prozac and "central nervous system products, psychology products," something he knew about from personal experience.

    "I studied depression. I've lived with depression. I've been treated for depression. And I know what medication can do," Burlakoff said. "So I went in there starry-eyed and explaining to my father, 'Hey Dad, I'm not just going into sales. I'm parlaying the education that you helped me with, you know, through college and my masters."

    Burlakoff said his father never wanted his son to pursue sales, even offering to supplement his income as a guidance counselor to keep him on that career track.

    "When I was young, he didn't have any strong opinions one way or the other, but when push came to shove and I was getting ready to leave my work as a guidance counselor at a school, he actually forbade me to go into sales," Burlakoff recalled.

    Despite his family's disapproval, Burlakoff entered the field. He says he was determined to get his family's support by earning "the type of dollars that my father and brother were earning." Burlakoff said he initially set out to help people, but within hours of being shown the ropes by fellow sales reps and managers, that notion was quickly dispelled. Salesmen, he learned, needed to hammer in rationalizations to justify their behaviors and be successful in the field.

    Burlakoff would be named Eli Lilly's "Rookie of the Year'' for the southeast region. In his retelling, the job came down to this: "How do you find a way to get into the customer's [doctors'] mind, manipulate them, overcome their objections, incentivize them, get them excited, and move product?"

    Aggressive sales tactics ultimately led to Eli Lilly becoming targeted in a lawsuit. And though the scheme was, at the end of the day, ruled legal by the judge, Burlakoff was fired. But the incident only enhanced his reputation, he said, and within three .

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    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/a...yl-painkiller/

    This story is part of a collaboration with the Financial Times, which includes the documentary Opioids, Inc. — now streaming, and premiering Tuesday, June 23 on PBS.

    Deborah Fuller had just heard the sentences that were the closest she would get to justice.

    In March 2016, her daughter Sarah died from an overdose of drugs that included Subsys: a tiny yet potent spray containing fentanyl, an opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. The day before her death, mother and daughter had chatted about her upcoming wedding. Sarah had already bought a garter. Deborah was planning to sew her veil. The next morning, Sarah’s fianc? found her dead, keeled over on her face. “It was not a vision I would wish on anyone. We had to have her cremated because there was no way they could have made it so that she was recognizable,” Deborah recalls in an interview.

    The former nursing assistant had first become addicted to opioids when she was prescribed them for fibromyalgia and neck and back injuries. After she recovered from the addiction, she visited a new doctor. With an Insys sales representative in the room, she was put back on opioids including Subsys – and within 20 days, her dose of the spray was tripled. Admitted to hospital for hyper-sedation, physicians recommended she stop using the spray – but her doctor continued to prescribe it.

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    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news...es-65-n1233020

    One of the leaders of the Opioid abuse scandal is dead at 65.

    STAMFORD, Conn. — Jonathan Sackler, one of the owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, has died, the company confirmed.

    Sackler died June 30, according to a court filing. He was 65 and the cause of death was cancer.

    He was the son of Raymond Sackler, one the brothers who bought drug company Purdue Frederick in 1952, and served as an executive and board member for the company that was later renamed Purdue Pharma. Like other members of the Sackler family, he has stepped off the board of the company in recent years, though family members retain ownership.

    The company is seeking bankruptcy protection as part of an effort to settle nearly 3,000 lawsuits brought against it by state and local governments that blame the company for sparking the opioid crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans since 2000. Hundreds of the lawsuits also name family members.

    The company's settlement plan calls for the family, which has been listed among America's wealthiest, to pay at least $3 billion and give up ownership of Purdue

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    https://www.usatoday.com/story/opini...mn/5470536002/

    America's pervasive addiction crisis is intensifying because of COVID-19. To cite one horrific example, suspected overdoses increased 42 percent in May.

    Social distancing, which has led to the loss of support from family and friends, has made worse the sense of isolation those who are addicted already feel because of the unjust stigma associated with this illness.

    Treatment and recovery support also have become more difficult to access because of the pandemic.

    Worse, COVID-related unemployment is expected to lead to millions more people becoming uninsured, which will make it more difficult for people with substance use disorders to receive treatment.

    With an opioid-related death occurring every 11 minutes, the already devastating opioid epidemic is getting worse.

    For many, this crisis is something that happens to other people. For me, it is personal.
    My son Brian’s struggle with addiction began in high school. Over eight years, Brian battled his disease courageously, attending eight treatment programs.

    On Oct. 20, 2011, I was awakened in the middle of the night and told my son had just died.

    Perhaps more tragic, it was not addiction that took my son’s life. On his last day alive, Brian researched suicide notes, wrote one of his own, lit a candle, and took his life. Alone.

    When you lose a child, you spend countless hours revisiting what you could have done differently — the moments that may have made the difference. Shatterproof, like so many other philanthropic organizations, was born from profound loss and pain.Movement born from pain

    For me, dedicating the remainder of my life to helping others avoid the tragedy my family had suffered started as a tribute to my son’s life and has now grown to be a tribute to millions of Americans.

    Our nation has responded to the addiction epidemic by changing prescribing practices for dangerous opioids, increasing funding for treatment and expanding the use of naloxone, a medication that can instantly reverse an overdose. But we have missed one of the most important causes of this devastation — the stigma around addiction.

    The key to ultimate change lies in changing the way people think about this disease. Addiction is treatable, and change lies in addressing and eliminating the stigma that causes so much shame, loneliness, and ultimately, so much tragedy.

    To this end, Shatterproof has researched case studies and data from effective social-change movements, including those related to HIV/AIDS, marriage equality and mental health, to create a comprehensive national strategy to engage individuals and institutions across our country in transforming how our society views the disease of addiction. Our research suggests that the stigma unjustly associated with this disease can be significantly reduced. And we built a plan to do so.

    Stigma must end

    The Movement to End Addiction Stigma helps those who want to learn how to drive change to confront the pervasive stigma in this crisis. It includes a framework for combating addiction stigma — and numerous practical suggestions on how to impart that change.

    Maybe you’re someone who’s coping with addiction, or maybe you have a family member who is. Maybe you’re a provider looking to improve the care you deliver, or maybe you’re the CEO of a large company. Or maybe you’re someone who simply wants to help save lives. No matter who you are, this movement is built for you.

    I often think about my son’s last visit home, four months before he died. His last night at our house, we were sitting on the back porch talking, and the conversation turned to his addiction and stigma.

    Brian looked at me and said, “Dad, I wish that someday… someday people would understand that I’m not a bad person. I am a good person with a bad disease. And Dad, I am trying my hardest to be a good son.”

    It’s too late to bring my son back. But it’s not too late to save the next son, daughter, brother or sister who suffers from addiction and has so much love to bring to their family.

    It is time that addiction become a national conversation and safe to discuss at work, in the community and around the kitchen table, because telling our stories, honestly and without shame, is one of the most powerful ways to change hearts and minds.

    Breaking down the stigma will open the opportunities for more people to seek high quality treatment and create a path for a full and fulfilling life.
    https://www.channel3000.com/wisconsi...andemic-began/

    And a Spike in Opioid Overdoses are being reported in Wisconsin.

    MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin health officials say suspected opioid overdoses have increased 117% since the coronavirus pandemic began compared with the same period last year.

    Data from Wisconsin emergency departments show 325 suspected overdoses from March to July 13 compared with 150 suspected overdoses over that span in 2019.

    State Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm says financial pressures and isolation can exacerbate behavioral and substance abuse problems. DHS officials say calls to the state’s help line indicate requests for information on behavioral health have been increasing as well.

    DHS provided several resources including Resilient Wisconsin, which was launched by DHS in April to provide information on how to handle stress and build the ability to recover from adversity.

    Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline, available 24/7: 211 or 833-944-4673.
    You can also text your zip code to 898211
    HOPELINE Text Service, available 24/7: Text HOPELINE to 741741
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 24/7: 1-800-273-8255

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    https://13wham.com/news/local/siena-...pioid-epidemic

    LOUDONVILLE, NY (WRGB )A dose of reality, as the latest TimesUnion/Siena Poll shows that of those polled, over half have been impacted by opioid abuse at 54%

    In the last two years, between 57 and 78% have seen what the poll says is a increases in the awareness of the dangers of prescription pain medication, lifesaving drugs like Naloxone or Narcan being more available.

    Those polled also say that doctors are showing more care in prescribing opioids.

    “Seventy-eight percent of state residents, down slightly from 82 percent in 2018, say that opioid abuse is a somewhat or very serious problem in their area. And most people are touched by this epidemic. Fifty-nine

    percent have at least one if not several of these experiences; someone in their immediate or extended family or a co-worker has abused opioids, a friend shared with them that they had family member suffering opioid

    addiction or they knew someone that died due to opioid abuse,” said Don Levy, SCRI’s Director.

    The poll also shows that a majority of New Yorkers, 74%, believe that hospitals law enforcement and government acknowledge and are working on a solution for the opioid epidemic.

    84% are in favor of punishing doctors who over-prescribe opioids, with an overwhelming support strengthening prescription monitoring.

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