Lawsuit Alleges Both Doctor and Drug Maker Created Opioid Addiction for Patient
A federal lawsuit filed in early 2018 outlines how healthcare providers and drug manufacturers work together to get patients hooked on opioids while enriching themselves with kickbacks and profits. Herbert Tisher and his wife are suing Dr. Eva Dickinson and her former practice, Cutting Edge Treatment Center as well as pharmaceutical manufacturer Insys Therapeutics.
Tisher first went to Dr. Dickinson in 2014 for help managing medication and pain associated with a car crash. Mr. Tisher was not in debilitating pain nor did he have cancer. Dr. Dickson prescribed Subsys, a liquid application of fentanyl applied under the tongue with effects "practically indistinguishable" from heroin or morphine but with greater potency. Federal health regulators have only approved Subsys to treat pain for end-of-life cancer patients who have built a tolerance to less potent opioids.
The lawsuit states Dickinson never took the appropriate precautions to warn Tisher of the dangers of Subsys. Tisher was never told it was a fentanyl-based drug approved for patients experiencing pain that couldn't be helped by other narcotics. Dickinson also initially prescribed Tisher a dosage six times what is recommended for cancer patients beginning treatment with the drug.
The lawsuit also claims Insys infiltrated the medical community with kickbacks and financial rewards to persuade physicians to prescribe Subsys. In 2012, the company recorded sales of $14 million. By the end of 2015, that number had ballooned to $426 million, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit claims Insys "ingratiated" themselves inside Dickinson's practice, even having representatives on-site encouraging Subsys prescriptions with Tishner and, presumably, other patients.
The allegations in the lawsuit against Insys are related to a Manhattan federal court indictment charging five doctors for taking kickbacks from Insys for prescribing millions of dollars' worth of Subsys and using their patients as an "instrument for profit," according to the Associated Press.