AG Brnovich Files Lawsuit Against Opioid Manufacturer Insys Therapeutics and Three Arizona Doctors

PHOENIX – Attorney General Mark Brnovich today filed an Arizona Consumer Fraud lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Insys Therapeutics Inc., which is based in Chandler. The lawsuit alleges that Insys engaged in a fraudulent marketing scheme designed to increase the sales of Subsys, a highly addictive opioid prescription drug that contains fentanyl.

“We need to put a stop to the unethical and greedy behavior in the pharmaceutical industry that is fueling the opioid crisis in our state,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich.

Three Arizona doctors are also named in the State’s lawsuit. Steve Fanto, Nikesh Seth, and Sheldon Gingerich allegedly collected sham educational “speaker fees” in exchange for writing prescriptions for Subsys. The complaint alleges that from March 2012 to April 2017, more than $33 million or 64 percent of Subsys sales in Arizona came from prescriptions written by Fanto, Seth, and Gingerich.

According to the lawsuit, Insys also violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act by providing insurers with false and misleading information to obtain prior authorization for Subsys prescriptions for patients. For example, Insys employees were allegedly instructed to mislead insurers into believing that patients who were prescribed Subsys had cancer when in fact they did not.

The lawsuit also alleges that Insys provided health care providers with false and misleading information that the FDA had approved Subsys for more uses than the FDA had actually approved. According to the complaint, Insys falsely advertised Subsys as appropriate treatment for mild pain. Subsys is a powerful opioid approved by the FDA for the management of breakthrough pain in cancer patients. Alec Burlakoff, the former Vice President of Sales for Insys, and Elizabeth Gurrieri, the former Manager of Reimbursement Service for Insys, are also named in the lawsuit. To date, Insys has sold approximately $1 billion worth of Subsys.

In the lawsuit, AG Brnovich is seeking remedies that include an injunction to stop Insys from continuing the alleged deceptions and misrepresentations, restitution for consumers, and disgorgement of all profits and gains obtained as a result of the alleged illegal conduct.

Consumer Litigation Unit Chief Counsel Matthew du Mee is the lead attorney on this case.

Full copy of the Consumer Fraud Lawsuit.