09.10.2016
policy

Opioid Maker Spends Big to Kill Legal Pot in Arizona

Why does the producer of an addictive, lethal substance hate weed?

A producer of the deadly narcotic fentanyl is funding opposition to legal adult-use marijuana in Arizona, and the funder is not just any producer of fentanyl. Insys Therapeutics out of Chandler, Arizona, has donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.

That half a million kicked in by Insys Therapeutics represents one-third of the dollars Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy has raised for its campaign to derail Arizona’s Proposition 205, a November ballot measure that would expand the rights of the state’s marijuana consumers and set a template for a system of retail shops.

When it's not being a huge weed-block donor, Insys Therapeutics is rife with perceptions of ethically challenged impropriety in the way it pushes fentanyl. From the Washington Post:

The company is facing state and federal investigations, as well as a shareholder lawsuit, over allegations that it improperly marketed the drug to doctors in an effort to boost sales.
In February, a former sales rep for the company pleaded guilty to fraud charges stemming from a kickback scheme involving Subsys fentanyl purchases. Last month, two former employees pleaded not guilty after being arrested for participating in a similar fentanyl kickback scheme.
At the time of the arrests, FBI Assistant Director Diego Rodriguezsaid in a statement, "This case should be something the medical industry and the general public should pay close attention to because it’s one of the reasons we’re experiencing an epidemic of overdoses and deaths in this country."

Team Insys Therapeutics claims it opposes normalization of marijuana in Arizona because federal regulatory procedures have yet to prove that marijuana is safe to use. So that’s analogous to the owners of a coal plant objecting to a motor scooter being ridden through their parking lot due to the scooter’s impact on air quality.

Unless they are truly inept, executives at Insys Therapeutics are aware of studies showing the drastic decline in painkiller prescriptions in states where marijuana is widely and legally available. On top of protecting pain-pill sales figures, Insys appears to have a second ulterior motive in dropping half a mill to restrict the widening availability of weed.

The company has developed, at presumed great cost, a drug called Syndros. Based on synthetic THC, Syndros is up for scheduling by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a treatment for certain symptoms among AIDS and cancer patients, afflicted individuals who might turn to a milder form of medicine to manage their symptoms, were that milder medicine readily available to them.

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