A former regional sales director of Insys Therapeutics reportedly gave a doctor a lap dance when the company pressured him to prescribe its deadly opioid painkiller to patients. That’s according to multiple reports from Tuesday’s testimony given by a former Insys colleague in a Boston federal court.
The testimony is part of a federal racketeering case pending this week against Insys founder John Kapoor and four former executives, including its sales director, Sunrise Lee. Federal prosecutors allege Insys executives used bribes and kickbacks to prescribe doctors the company’s potent and addictive fentanyl spray, called Subsys, which was intended only for cancer patients experiencing pain not relieved by other drugs (including known as “breakthrough pain”). The former executives are also accused of deceiving and defrauding health insurance companies that eventually covered the drug for patients who didn’t need it. A 2017 congressional investigation concluded that Insys representatives were flatly lying and misleading insurers into doing so — and the investigators released the tapes to prove it.
Two additional former Insys executives — former Insys CEO and President Michael Babich and former Vice President of Sales Alec Burlakoff — were also charged in the case, but pleaded guilty and are working with prosecutors.
In testimony Tuesday to the rest, former sales representative Holly Brown made the allegation of lap dancing against her former boss, Lee. Brown testified that in mid-2012 she, Lee and other sales representatives had a Dr. Paul Madison to a club after a dinner sponsored by Insys. Brown said her superiors had told her to focus on Dr. Madison, who was known for prescribing many opioids. She described his office as a “shady pill mill” in a “grubby comic book store in a not-so-nice part of town,” according to reports.
Brown recalled a meeting she had seen between Lee and Madison that night and said, “She was sitting on his lap, bouncing around a bit, and he had his hands all over her chest.”
Lee, a former stripper, had no experience in the pharmaceutical industry before working at Insys, prosecutors noted. According to Bloomberg, court documents reveal that Insys whistleblowers quoted Burlakoff saying that “doctors really enjoyed spending time with [Lee]’ and that she was ‘more of a closer’.
Brown echoed the idea, saying in her testimony that Lee played her sexuality during sales pitches. She dressed in a “sexually suggestive way” and “showed more cleavage than the average salesperson,” Brown said.
Prosecutors reported that Insys paid Madison at least $70,800 in “speaker fees.”
Madison was convicted in a separate trial last November for, among other things, health care fraud. He is awaiting sentencing in March and faces up to 10 years in prison.
The process involving Lee and the other Insys executives is expected to take several months.