insys

The historic Nov. 2016 ballot initiatives to legalize cannabis brought a resounding win for freedom in several states, with the exception of Arizona. There, voters narrowly rejected decriminalization, in no small part due to a massive anti-pot propaganda campaign funded in-part by Big Pharma.

Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics gave $500,000 to a group called Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, which amounted to 10 percent of the group’s total money used to manufacture and disseminate anti-pot propaganda. Some of the scare tactics Insys used itself was to claim that legalization “fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children,” and that production of “narcotic raw materials” promotes abuse.

Both of these claims are patently absurd coming from a pharma corporation under investigation for bribery and marketing fraud relating to its synthetic opioid Subsys — a dead form of fentanyl. As we know, by far the most devastating form of drug abuse – opioid addiction which kills tens of thousand of people a year – was brought about by Big Pharma itself under a legal framework.

The real reason for Insys’ opposition to cannabis legalization was spelled out in a 2007 disclosure to the SEC, which stated: If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States…our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected.

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At that time, Insys was marketing Dronabinol, its synthetic version of the primary active and medicinal ingredient in the cannabis plant known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The company knows that if cannabis is legal, people can grow their own medicine or buy purified natural versions from MMJ dispensaries instead of Insys’ patented products.

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Now, Insys’ investment into anti-pot campaigns has paid off again with the launch of a second synthetic THC drug called Syndros. After getting DEA to list its synthetic THC in the coveted Schedule 2 category in March, Insys has gotten approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put Syndros on the market.

Insys has been going through the government approval process for Syndros for 13 months, just as cannabis legalization efforts were sweeping the nation. Syndros is a liquid, oral solution of Dronabinol approved for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, as well as anorexia associated with AIDS.

Of course, in many U.S. states patients can go to legal medical cannabis dispensaries for the natural version of THC and treat their condition just as well, if not better. But Insys is literally banking on government restricting people’s freedom so they become dependent on Insys’ patented synthetic product, which comes with potential side-effects of nausea, vomiting, and stomach/abdominal pain.

It’s also no coincidence that Insys’ $500K expenditure came as their stock market performance was tumbling due to the revelations of bribery and marketing fraud.

As TFPT previously reported, six former Insys Therapeutics Inc executives and managers were arrested in December on charges that they “engaged in a nationwide scheme to bribe doctors to prescribe a drug containing the opioid fentanyl.”

Along with the executives, Michael Baich, the former CEO, was also charged in an indictment filed in federal court in Boston that same week.

They were all brought up on charges of racketeering for their scheme.

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“Patient safety is paramount, and prescriptions for these highly addictive drugs, especially fentanyl, which is among the most potent and addictive opioids, should be prescribed without the influence of corporate money,” Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney in Massachusetts, said in a statement at the time. “I hope that today’s charges send a clear message that we will continue to attack the opioid epidemic from all angles, whether it is corporate greed or street-level dealing.”

Sadly, however, nothing changed and this corrupt company is now receiving help in the form of a government-granted monopoly. Instead of setting an example with Insys, the FDA and DEA may have actually saved them, as their new Syndros drug is expected to bring in up to $400 million, making it an “exciting” prospect for investors.

Who cares about fraud and bribery when you can keep on using government to restrict people’s freedom to use a plant and approve synthetic versions of that very plant?

Adding to the absurdity of it all is the fact that if government approves a synthetic version of THC, then this is an admission that THC has medical uses. Even the government’s National Institutes of Health knows this. And yet, the DEA’s position is that cannabis has no medical use, and federal government’s position remains one of complete prohibition.

With Insys, the State has once again proved how it serves the interest of the corporatocracy at the expense of the people.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.