Qui Tam Lawsuit Against Insys Unsealed |

Phillips & Cohen LLP announced on May 14, 2018, that documents in a whistleblower claim filed by a former sale representative of Insys Therapeutics were recently unsealed. The original lawsuit was filed in 2013 against the Florida company by Maria Guzman. The lawsuit claimed that Insys pressured doctors to prescribe the synthetic opioid Subsys and to increase the dosages once it was subscribed. Subsys is “highly addictive and dangerous.” Subsys is a strong fentanyl spray which is typically used for oncology patients with severe cancer pain.

The lawsuit claimed that Insys used illegal sales methods and illegal marketing practices. The illegal methods included “overt and disguised bribes.” Ms. Guzman claimed that Insys used “thinly veiled lies used to rationalize the off-label benefits for patients using Subsys. The bribes include money, sex, business relationships and partnerships, and luxury items. Ms. Guzman filed the claim because the drug maker was doing what was good for their finances but not for the health and welfare of the patients.

Many whistleblower claims are necessary to stop companies from cheating the government. Prescribing unnecessary drugs and submitting claims to federal health payers (such as Medicare) cheats the taxpayers out of large sums. Ms. Guzman’s claims did more than just help the government recoup false claims for payment. The lawsuit should help stop the prescription of unnecessary and dangerous opioids. The overuse and non-prescribed use of opioids have become a national epidemic which is taking the lives of thousands and thousands of users nationwide.

Ms. Guzman’s lawsuit was one of several whistleblower claims brought pursuant to the federal False Claims Act. With the unsealing of these lawsuits, the US Department of Justice and some states formally announced they would be seeking damages against Insys.

Additionally, the Justice Department is pursuing criminal charges again several Insys personnel. Three physicians involved in the accepting the kickbacks have already been “convicted and sentenced to prison.”

Erika Kelton, a whistleblower lawyer, and partner at Phillips & Cohen said, “Maria Guzman did a great public service for this country by exposing what Insys and these doctors were doing.”

False Claims Act Cases

The False Claims Act dates back to the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. It is one of many laws that allows whistleblowers to recover a percentage of any recovery provided the disclosure of the fraud is properly made and a settlement or verdict is obtained.

In False Claims Act cases, defendants are normally required to pay restitution for their ill-gotten gains and to pay additional civil penalties. Penalties can also include treble damages of the amounts that were falsely submitted.

Experienced whistleblower attorneys advise claimants on many issues including their right to claim whistleblower damages – but only if they were the first person to blow the whistle. Many other formalities must be met to be eligible for the award. Once a lawsuit is filed, it is up to the Justice Department to decide if they are going to intervene – decide to prosecute.

Employees and anyone who knows that a company or individual is submitting false claims can help the government by filing a whistleblower action. Whistleblowers may also be entitled to a percentage of any recovery. At Stephen Danz & Associates, we have extensively experienced filing whistleblower actions. Stephen Danz & Associates partners with the nation’s leading qui tam firms. To learn if you have a whistleblower claim, contact us at 877-789-9707 to schedule an appointment.