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March 05, 2021 05:00am
By Jill Murphy, Associate Editor
Drug manufacturer and PA engage in deceptive marketing for strong pain medication.
A New Hampshire-based physician assistant (PA) is at the center of an investigation for his role in a fentanyl spray scam, according toNH1.
Subsys is a spray version of the pain medication fentanyl and is reportedly stronger than morphine.
According to the attorney general’s office, New Hampshire patients were receiving more than 800 Subsys prescriptions between 2013 and 2014. Of which, more than 80% were written by PA Christopher Clough, who was paid by the manufacturer Insys Therapeutics to promote the drug at fake speaking events,NH1reported.
In December 2015, Insys received a subpoena regarding deceptive marketing practices. Subsys is subject to a monitoring program required by the FDA that places controls on drug dispensing.
Documents provided by the attorney general’s office stated that a sales representative encouraged Clough to prescribe Subsys, subsequently joining the Insys Speaker Bureau and was considered a crucial part of that organization.
The speaker programs were a scheme by Insys to influence Clough to prescribe their drug, according toNH1. The documents allege that many of the programs were actually social gatherings at high-end restaurants.
Although some of the speaking engagements were attended by PainCare staff—–where Clough was employed––none of them actually prescribed the medicine.
Insys paid Clough a total of $44,000 for speaking at 40 programs on behalf of the company. Furthermore, Clough became the highest prescriber of Subsys in New Hampshire and one of the top prescribers in the country.
Clough left the speakers bureau after receiving a notice of a hearing regarding inappropriate prescribing practices. According to the state, Insys engaged in unfair or deceptive acts in the violation of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act, NH RSA 358-A,NH1reported.
Insys has denied wrongdoing and agreed to the terms of an Assurance of Discontinuance under the Consumer Protection Act. The terms instruct the company to not make any misleading claims and to comply with written policies to ensure speakers follow appropriate standards.
For violating the Consumer Protection Act, Insys paid the state $2,900,000. Additionally, they will pay the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation $500,000 to be used for opioid misuse in the state.