One Senator Fights Tooth and Nail to Expose Big Pharma

Big Pharma and Law

For years, decades even, public outcry has been the talk of the day in an insistence on holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for the drugs they make and for the terrible effects those drugs have on the American populace. Though Big Pharma has been coming under a lot of pressure lately to change their ways and to make different drugs that are non-addictive and non-lethal, pharmaceutical giants always seem to find a way to get out from under the pressure of whatever lawsuit they happen to be in at the time.

But no more.

Towards the end of 2017, one U.S. Senator’s year-long investigation into Insys Therapeutics is finally paying off with massive exposure of the pharmaceutical giant for unethical business practices, for unethical and unbusinesslike conduct, and for bending and breaking regulations on requirements for lawful products, shipping, marketing, and promotion.

Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat from Missouri, was able to prove that employees from Insys Therapeutics systematically manipulated authorization for its fentanyl drug Subsys without the proper compliance measures followed correctly. In a direct quote from the Senator on the matter, she said that:

“There is extensive evidence that Insys aggressively pressured its employees and the entire medical system to increase the use of a fentanyl product during a national epidemic that was taking the lives of tens of thousands of Americans a year in order to make more money—it’s hard to imagine anything more despicable. Their attempts to manipulate the prescription approval process for this drug appear to have been systemic, and anyone responsible for this manipulation deserves to be prosecuted.”

The Card that the Food and Drug Administration Played

It is widely believed that the Food and Drug Administration made an error in approving Subsys for pain management and cancer pain in the first place. Essentially, Insys Therapeutics had their representatives manipulate the FDA approvals that were already controversial by saying Subsys was “Now approved for the treatment of non-cancer conditions such as back pain, migraines, headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc.”

The report that Senator McCaskill put together was so inflammatory and such a “slam dunk” if you will that the report even had an audio clip of an Insys representative lying to FDA representatives over the phone in order to receive authorization for the drug.

The Effect of Opioid Addiction in the U.S.

When we see something like what Senator McCaskill was able to accomplish, we want to applaud. Big Pharma has so much money that they can essentially buy their way out of any lawsuit and simply continue on with their unethical practices. This is very unfortunate because opiate pharmaceutical addiction is a terrible epidemic in the U.S. today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the overdose rate in 2015 was three times what it was in 1999. More than forty-thousand people died from drug overdoses in 2015, and more than sixty-thousand died from overdoses in 2016. This is a problem that claims about one-hundred and forty-two lives every day.

We Need More Investigations Like Senator McCaskill’s

A wise man once said that “Anything worth doing should be done every day.” That applies to this scenario in a sense. Successfully implicating one pharmaceutical organization in illegal practices is like a drop of water in a sea of corruption and malpractice. Senator McCaskill’s actions need to be admired, applauded, and then replicated.

It is of the utmost importance that we see reform come into place in the way that pharmaceutical companies make and sell drugs. It is pharmaceutical drugs that carry the backbone of the addiction epidemic, so only by changing this industry can we make a true change for the better in the current addiction crisis.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.