WASHINGTON – Continuing her investigation into the opioid epidemic, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today revealed that Insys Therapeutics failed to report a previously undisclosed $100,000 in contributions to a third party advocacy group. This information comes as a supplement to McCaskill’s February report on the opioid crisis, which described how manufacturers of opioids have made significant financial investments into third party organizations—groups which in turn have engaged in pro-opioid advocacy over a long period of time.
“An opioid manufacturer somehow losing track of $100,000 in contributions to a third-party advocacy group is even more evidence that the financial relationships described in our report are problematic and lack transparency,” McCaskill said. “We’re once again seeing why we need to hold opioid manufacturers accountable to being transparent about their relationships with these third-party advocacy organizations.”
In previous correspondence with Committee staff, Insys Therapeutics reported contributions totaling $562,500 to the National Pain Foundation between 2012 and 2017—all “generally for sponsorship of conferences, trade shows, and meetings”—which was detailed in McCaskill’s February report. However, more than two months after this report, the Global Pain Initiative (the new name of the National Pain Foundation) described $662,500 in contributions from Insys in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017—$100,000 more than Insys reported. In initial correspondence with the minority staff of the Committee in May 2018, Insys could not “find a record of an additional $100,000 payment” to account for the discrepancy between the amount the company reported to the Committee and the amount the Global Pain Initiative reported. Only months later, in July 2018, did Insys confirm the $100,000 payment.
Last year, McCaskill launched an investigation into opioid manufacturers—the most comprehensive Congressional investigation into the crisis to date—when she requested information related to sales and marketing materials, internal addiction studies, details on compliance with government settlements and donations to third party advocacy groups from major opioid manufacturers. Later, she expanded her investigation, requesting documents and information from opioid manufacturers Mallinckrodt, Endo, Teva, and Allergan, while a request to McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Corporation, and Cardinal Health, Inc., focused on their distribution of opioid products.
In September of last year, McCaskill announced the first round of findings, detailing systemic manipulation of the prior authorization process by Insys Therapeutics. After media reports indicated that the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 had dramatically restricted DEA’s ability to crack down on opioid distributors suspected of wrongdoing, McCaskill introduced a bill to repeal the law, and she led a Senate roundtable on her bill. Earlier this year in February, McCaskill’s investigation released another round of findings, exposing the financial ties between opioid manufacturers and third party groups, who often lobbied for pro-opioid policies after receiving contributions from pharmaceutical companies. In the wake of these discoveries, McCaskill introduced a bill in June to increase transparency and make sure opioid manufacturers report contributions to third party groups, which totaled almost $9 million between 2012 and 2017 for the companies and groups profiled in the February 2018 report.
Earlier this month, McCaskill issued another report as part of her opioid investigation, this time focusing on the volume of opioids moving through Missouri. The report highlights the number of suspicious orders reported as a result of that volume of opioids—as well as the lack of administrative enforcement action taken by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) against distributors in general to prevent the diversion of opioids to the black market.
Read the full supplement to the February opioid report HERE.