Long Story Short
Insys Therapeutics based in Arizona just made a huge donation to keep medical marijuana illegal. The company specializes in producing and selling a highly addictive, potent, and dangerous opioid painkiller. Critics say the company’s donation is an attempt to keep medical cannabis off the market so it can’t compete with prescription painkillers.
According to brand new reports, Insys Therapeutics just donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. The group is fighting to defeat Proposition 205, which could make cannabis legal in Arizona. Voters will weigh in on the initiative this fall.
After making its donation, Insys is now the single largest donor to the anti-pot group. In a statement, Insys said that it opposes Prop 205 “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”
Despite the company’s claim that it’s concerned with safety and health, critics are now calling the company out. Instead of focusing on safety, these critics say, the company is trying to protect its profits.
Profiting From The Opioid Crisis
Insys specializes in a sprayable form of fentanyl called Subsys. And the company’s making a lot of money on it. In the first half of 2015 Insys made $147.2 million from its fentanyl spray.
But here’s the problem. Fentanyl is a very dangerous drug. One expert said fentanyl products are “the most potent and dangerous opioids on the market.” It’s known for being highly addictive and can sometimes even be fatal. In fact, Prince died from an accidental fentanyl overdose earlier this year.
Fentanyl is part of what many have called an opioid epidemic in the U.S. Opioids are among the most heavily prescribed painkillers in the country. But they’re also some of the most misused drugs. That’s because they’re highly addictive. And many times, people who become addicted to opioids can end up overdosing. In other cases, opiate addicts end up moving from more expensive prescriptions to cheaper heroin.
Insys Therapeutics has already gotten in trouble for its role in all this. They’ve been under investigation for illegally pushing fentanyl for uses it’s not approved for.
“I’ve been investigating drug case for about 15 years now, and the conduct that we saw, in this case, was among the most unconscionable that I’ve seen,” said Oregon Assistant Attorney General David Hart. “There was harm done to patients on a level I’m not used to seeing.”
All of this has called the company’s anti-cannabis motives into question. Many have called the company out for being more concerned with its profits than with people’s safety.
And in fact, Insys has good reason to be concerned that medical cannabis could disrupt its opioid sales. Studies have found that places with medical cannabis have lower rates of opioid abuse and addiction. And more and more people see medical cannabis as a safer, more effective form of medicine than prescription opioids.