Insys executives used rap video to push sales of potentially lethal opioid

Insys execs used rap to push sales of opioid

Federal prosecutors alleged in court on Wednesday that a company at the center of a criminal investigation stemming from the nation's opioid epidemic used a music video to motivate employees to push sales of a highly addictive fentanyl spray. Former executives and managers of Insys Therapeutics are accused of bribing doctors to prescribe the drug. 

Those former Insys executives and managers are charged with conspiring with one another to use bribes and kickbacks for doctors who wrote large numbers of prescriptions. The video shown in court Wednesday is just one piece of mounting evidence in the case.

Prosecutors said a five-minute rap video debuted at an Insys sales conference in 2015. In it, two young salesmen promote the powerful fentanyl spray Subsys. The message: encourage Insys sales representatives to push doctors to increase the strength of Subsys prescriptions until a patient reaches the adequate dosage. It's a process known as "titration."

"I love titrations. Yeah, that's not a problem. I got new patients, and I got a lot of 'em. If you want to be great, listen to my voice. You can be great, but it's your choice," the salesmen in the video rapped.  

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In a rap video shown at an Insys sales conference in 2015, two young salesmen promote the powerful fentanyl spray Subsys  

Prosecutors said the person wearing the Subsys costume – labeled with medication's highest dosage – is Insys' former vice president of sales, Alec Burlakoff.

In November, Burlakoff pleaded guilty in the nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors to prescribe Subsys. He's expected to testify as a government witness.

In 2017, CBS News learned Insys made 18,000 payments to doctors in 2016 that totaled more than $2 million.

Prosecutors claim Insys founder John Kapoor personally recruited physicians for a kickback scheme that included dinners at high-end restaurants and payments for sham speaking engagements. Kapoor's attorney has claimed he's innocent.

Since the Food and Drug Administration approved Subsys in 2012 to treat severe cancer pain, Insys has reportedly disclosed more than 900 Subsys-related deaths to the FDA.

Insys Therapeutics has told CBS News it's cooperating with authorities and is committed to complying with laws and regulations that apply.