A woman from Middletown, N.J., who was working for a pharmaceutical company is in hot water after bribing doctors for prescription drugs. Michelle Breitenbach was receiving Subsys, a powerful opioid painkiller that is a form of fentanyl. She was offering the bribes in the form of speaker fees for different marketing and education affairs.
Her charge is the conspiracy to commit commercial bribery of the second-degree. She pleaded to the charge today, May 31st.
The doctors were part of a “Speakers Bureau Program” that would hold events to educate other doctors on Subsys. However, these events would include meals from expensive restaurants. Also, doctors who weren’t speaking were receiving pay as if they were.
According to court documents, Michelle says that she was under pressure at her job, Insys, to promote the speaking program as a way to encourage more sales of Subsys. The payments made to doctors who were “speakers” were actual reards for prescribing her more of the drug.
Pharmaceutical Worker Bribes Doctors For Opioids
Her case occurs at a time when state and federal prosecutors are going after providers who prescribe potent opioids, and increasingly, the pharmaceutical companies that make them. Last year, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office filed suit against Insys and its billionaire founder, John N. Kapoor.
Subsys come in a spray form. Its use is for the intense breakthrough pain that occurs during the end stages of cancer. However, doctors can legally prescribe the medicine for other purposes.
There was also a lawsuit filed against the Purdue Pharma L.P. by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office last year. According to the suit, the company was being deceptive in the marketing of OxyContin and other opioid painkillers.
On July 6, Breitenbach will receive her sentencing. As of now, she is looking to face five years in prison.