Ex-Big Pharma CEO Pleads Guilty to Paying Doctors to Prescribe Opioids
Former pharmaceutical chief executive prescribed his company’s fentanyl-based opioid dru
A former pharmaceutical chief executive has pleaded guilty to facilitating a complex scheme that awarded 'kickbacks' to a doctor who prescribed his company’s fentanyl-based opioid drugs, reports say.
According to the lawyer and prosecution, it is a move towards removing corrupt greed that’s “alive and well in the pharma business.”
Michael Babich, the former CEO at Insys Therapeutics pleaded guilty for his role in the nationwide scam to entice physicians to prescribe the company’s oral-spray painkillers, according to the hearing at the federal court in Boston on Wednesday.
“It is very important that companies like Insys be held responsible for corrupting the medical community, as well as endangering and sometimes killing innocent patients,” said attorney Mike Moore.
Moore is leading efforts to sue corrupt pharmaceutical companies ten years after securing a large settlement against tobacco companies.
The former Mississippi attorney general, added, “Greed is alive and well in the pharma business and must be weeded out.”
But for several of Babich’s alleged co-conspirators, the cases remain open.
The company paid half a million dollars two years ago following Attorney General Maura Healey’s lawsuit on similar claims.
Babich, 42, admitted he used Insys as a tool to bribe doctors into prescribing Subsys to patients who didn't even have cancer.
The scheme brought $3.5 million more in profit to the corrupt executive, which he has since agreed to give up.
According to prosecutors, the doctors would write Subsys prescriptions for no valid medical purpose.
The kickbacks were disguised in the form of speaking fees by Babich and other officials.
Insys executives would punish doctors who failed to write enough prescriptions.
The former sales vice president for Insys, Alec Burlakoff, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in November before agreeing to cooperate with investigators.
Babich faces up to 25 years behind bars.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling attended the court hearing Wednesday, but his office refused to comment, citing the pending related cases.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said:
“Boston has reached a breaking point in the fight against the opioid epidemic."
"We have a public health crisis on our hands that has steadily gotten worse in recent years, and even though we have been increasing access to critical treatments and supports, we can’t fight this alone."
"It’s time to hold accountable the companies that created and fostered this crisis and pursue remedies to stop its harmful marketing tactics.”