Aetna files lawsuit against fentanyl spray manufacturer over off-label prescription insurance payments

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by Jim Orr

The insurance company Aetna has filed a lawsuit against Insys Therapeutics, the manufacturer of the fentanyl spray Subsys. The lawsuit alleges that Insys illegally promoted Subsys to doctors, costing Aenta hundreds of millions in payments for prescriptions to patients who were not approved to use the drug by the FDA.

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful opioid painkiller – about 80-100 times more potent than morphine. Because of their extreme potency and the high risk they carry for causing an overdose, fentanyl products like Subsys are only approved by the FDA for patients with extreme pain, such as cancer patients, who have already developed a tolerance for opioids.

According to Aetna’s lawsuit, Insys representatives encouraged doctors to prescribe Subsys for less severe pain such as back pain. As a result of this illegal marketing campaign, the insurance company alleges that it was forced to pay about $300 million between 2012 and 2014 for off-label Subsys prescriptions.

Insys filed a motion to dismiss Aetna’s claims, alleging that the insurance company’s allegations were barred under Pennsylvania law. In an August 2018 ruling, a judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania rejected the Subsys motion, allowing Aetna’s lawsuit against the drug maker to move forward.

In recent years, Insys has faced numerous lawsuits over allegations concerning its off-label promotion of Subsys. The company has faced allegations from attorneys general and insurance companies across the U.S. alleging that they were forced to make millions in payments for off-label prescriptions resulting from the company’s illegal marketing of the drug.

The families of patients who died as a result of a fentanyl overdose involving Subsys have also filed wrongful death lawsuits against Insys. These lawsuits have alleged that patients who suffered fatal overdoses should never have been prescribed Subsys because they were not approved to use the drug by the FDA.

Fentanyl Overdose Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

Despite efforts by health officials to limit off-label prescriptions for Subsys and other fentanyl products, thousands of patients die each year as a result of overdoses caused by the drug. These overdoses occur for a variety of reasons: because patients were given too much fentanyl by their doctors, because patients were prescribed fentanyl even though they were ineligible under FDA guidelines, or because they were prescribed the powerful painkiller in combination with other CNS-depressant medications, leading to a combined drug overdose.

If you have lost a loved one to a fentanyl overdose, you may qualify to file a lawsuit and receive compensation. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney who has the experience in fentanyl litigation to advise you of your rights and whether you may be eligible to file a claim.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have successfully resolved more fentanyl lawsuits than all other law firms in the United States combined. Our law firm has also filed lawsuits on behalf of families who have lost a loved one to an overdose caused by other powerful opioids – including oxycodone, hydromorphone, morphine, hydrocodone, and methadone.

For a free legal consultation about your case and find out whether you may be eligible to file a fentanyl lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free fentanyl case evaluation form and submitting some brief information about your case.