The Arizona-based drug-maker, Insys Therapeutics has agreed to pay the state of Illinois $4.45 million to settle certain allegations that the company had deceptively marketed and sold its prescription drug for uses that have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The settlement, which finally became official on Friday, comes about two weeks following a note that the Insys Therapeutics Chief Financial Officer said they were already setting aside $4.5 million as an estimate for the potential settlement. Of course, the company has not made any response to the comment, nor has the company admit any liability or wrongdoing as part of this agreement.
The state of Illinois brought this lawsuit as one of the states in the country’s Midwest region, an area affected the most by rising overdose deaths caused by addictive opioid painkiller abuse (like oxycodone or hydrocodone). Indeed, Illinois is only one of perhaps several dozen US states, cities, and/or municipalities where lawsuits have been filed to allege drug companies had been engaging in such deceptions, in particular hiding the addictive nature of their medicines.
According to a 2014 United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate, roughly two million Americans are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. The concern, of course, is that some of these addicts move on to other drugs, like heroin, especially when their prescription runs out; besides, heroin is cheaper than prescription painkillers. As a matter of fact, US government data estimates that ninety people die in the United States every day, as a result of an opioid overdose. In Illinois, alone, there were 2,278 drug overdose deaths in 2016.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who initiated the suit, argues: “Insys pushed a highly addictive opioid in complete disregard for patients’ health to increase company profits.”
In the suit, the state alleges that the US-based drug manufacturer had inappropriately marketed its painkiller on a broad bases for the treatment of several chronic conditions, like back pain and neck pain. Then, the suit continues, the manufacturer pushed for doctors to prescribe higher doses at higher prices.
Madigan goes on to say, “It’s unethical, greedy behavior by companies like Insys that is responsible for creating the opioid epidemic and resulting overdose deaths in our state.”
What is, perhaps, most important about this case is that is among the very first settlements of civil suits many drug manufacturers face in regards to the US overdose epidemic.