Yes, The Drug Companies Do Not Always Act In The Best Interest Of The Consumer

On Wednesday Reuters reported that Michael Babich, former chief executive of Insys Therapeutics Inc (INSY.O), pleaded guilty on Wednesday to participating in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe an addictive opioid medication and has agreed to become a government witness.

The article reports:

Prosecutors allege that from 2012 to 2015, Kapoor, Babich and others conspired to pay doctors bribes in exchange for prescribing Subsys, an under-the-tongue fentanyl spray for managing severe pain in cancer patients.

Fentanyl is an opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.

Prosecutors said Insys paid doctors kickbacks in the form of fees to participate in speaker programs ostensibly meant to educate medical professionals about Subsys that were actually sham events.

Prior to working at Insys, Babich had worked at Kapoor’s venture capital firm.

Insys in August said it had agreed to pay at least $150 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. The company has said it has taken steps to ensure it operates legally going forward.

On November 29, 2018, The New York Times reported:

A class of synthetic drugs has replaced heroin in many major American drug markets, ushering in a more deadly phase of the opioid epidemic.

New numbers Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017, a record. Overdose deaths are higher than deaths from H.I.V., car crashes or gun violence at their peaks. The data also show that the increased deaths correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls.

Since 2013, the number of overdose deaths associated with fentanyls and similar drugs has grown to more than 28,000, from 3,000. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.

The article includes a number of graphs showing the increase in drug overdoses in recent years and the role that fentanyl  has played in that increase.

This is only one aspect of the opioid epidemic, but at least some action has been taken on this aspect.

 

Progress Made

The Washington Examiner reported today the the Justice Department has target for arrest at least 48 people who were involved in a “multi-state heroin and fentanyl network.”

The article reports:

The takedown was in Huntington, W.V. — a city U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart called the “epicenter of the opioid crisis.”

“Huntington has become ground zero,” he told reporters earlier Tuesday. “The highest per capita overdose death rate for opioids is in Southern District of West Virginia.”

 The arrests were ongoing Tuesday, he said, and wouldn’t necessarily end Tuesday either.

The take down targeted the Peterson Drug Trafficking Organization, and charged at least 15 individuals with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl in the Southern District of West Virginia,

Another 15 were indicted in county court Monday, and additional members are expected to be charged in Detroit.

”At least 48 individuals are targeted for arrest on various narcotics, violent crime and firearms related charges at the federal or state level as determined by the circumstances of each matter,” the Justice Department said.

The drug trafficking organization has been operating in Huntington for nearly 15 years, trafficking heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine from Detroit to Huntington, the Justice Department said.

The operation took at least 450 grams of fentanyl off of the streets — enough to kill more than 250,000 people.

We have a major drug problem in America. According to the chart I found at statista, in America the highest number of deaths from drug overdoses occur to Americans between the ages of 25 and 55.

This is the chart:

Number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. from 2014 to 2016, by age

It is interesting to me that the age range that generally has the greatest amount of disposable income is the age range that is most likely to die from a drug overdose. It is very sad that many people get involved with drugs during the most productive years of their lives.

Hopefully the taking down of the drug network in West Virginia will be the beginning of dealing with one aspect of America’s drug problem.