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30 Jan, 2019 18:39

Pharma exec gave doctor lap dance while pushing addictive painkiller

Pharma exec gave doctor lap dance while pushing addictive painkiller

A former stripper who rose up the ranks to become a sales director at Insys Therapeutics gave a doctor a lap dance as she utilized all her assets to get him to prescribe a dangerous opioid, a court has heard.

In the seedy world of pharmaceutical sales sometimes you just gotta be willing to go the extra mile for clients. In a classic example of the hard-sell, ex-stripper Sunrise Lee once gave a lap dance to a doctor the company was pressuring to get his patients on its addictive fentanyl spray, Subsys, a former Insys employee has testified in federal court in Boston.

Jurors heard the salacious testimony in the first criminal trial of painkiller manufacturer executives over conduct that authorities say contributed to a US opioid abuse epidemic that has killed tens of thousands of people a year, Reuters reports.

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Former Insys sales representative Holly Brown said the racy dance took place after Insys began rewarding the doctor for prescribing its painkillers by paying him to speak at sham events that were billed as opportunities for other physicians to learn about the drug.

In reality the speaking events were actually just social gatherings for doctors and their friends, prosecutors say.

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The doctor, Paul Madison, is just one of many whom Lee and four colleagues, including wealthy Insys founder John Kapoor, conspired to bribe to boost sales of Subsys, prosecutors allege. They say the former exotic dancer was hired as a “closer” with doctors targeted by the drug’s marketing program.


“The idea was these weren’t really meant to be educational programs but were meant to be rewards to physicians,” Brown said.

Describing the after dinner activities at one event in 2012, Brown said she, Lee and Madison went to a club, where she witnessed Lee “sitting on his lap, kind of bouncing around.”

“He had his hands sort of inappropriately all over her chest,” she said. During cross-examination by Lee’s attorney, Brown agreed that Madison “appeared to be taking advantage of Ms Lee”.

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She also told the court that at the time, Madison ran a “notorious” medical practice. In a 2012 email shown to jurors she described it as a “shady pill mill.” Prosecutors say Insys paid Madison at least $70,800 in speaker fees.

The US Food and Drug Administration has only approved Subsys for treating cancer pain. Prosecutors allege doctors paid by Insys often prescribed Subsys to patients without cancer. The defendants have all pleaded not guilty to racketeering conspiracy.

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