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Brainstorm Health: Insys Opioid Report, American Lifespans, Minnesota Insulin Suit

Hello and happy hump day, readers. This is Sy.

A bombshell Senate report castigates Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics for its alleged role in deepening America’s opioid crisis—including through questionable marketing tactics meant to boost sales of the fentanyl containing drug Subsys, a particularly potent painkiller that’s even stronger than the likes of OxyContin.

“Insys took an anything-goes approach to push sales higher and distorted the doctor-patient relationship with outside compensation, just so pharmaceutical executives could line their pockets,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, ranking member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in a statement.

“There is extensive evidence that Insys aggressively pressured its employees and the entire medical system to increase the use of a fentanyl product during a national epidemic that was taking the lives of tens of thousands of Americans a year in order to make more money,” she continued.

The report is absolutely worth reading in full. It outlines allegations against Insys—whose founder, John Kapoor, was arrested last year over bribery charges—including a culture of protecting the bottom line via any means possible. (One sales manager literally referred to patients as “low-hanging fruit,” according to the investigation.)

Insys has previously agreed to pay $150 million in fines over its marketing tactics. A company spokesperson said that the actions detailed in the new report “pertains to past events involving former employees that would have occurred well before 2016 and have since been dealt with by the company.”

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

INDICATIONS

Minnesota takes on the insulin makers. Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has filed a lawsuit against three of the world’s largest insulin manufacturers—Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk—for allegedly engaging in deceptive drug pricing practices. (All three firms strongly deny the allegations.) Here’s Reuters with the details: “The lawsuit alleged that companies fraudulently set artificially high list price for their products while offering rebates to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in exchange for them covering the drug on behalf of health plans.” (Reuters)

THE BIG PICTURE

American lifespans don’t have the greatest outlook. A report published this week in the journal Lancet concludes that Americans born in the year 2040 will just barely live longer than those who were born in 2016. By contrast, people in Asian and European nations are expected to outpace their American counterparts (a conclusion that numerous other studies have also reached), according to the study authors. (Gizmodo)

REQUIRED READING

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Why General Mills Is Turning to ‘Throwback’ Farming to Fight Climate Changeby Emma Hinchliffe

What Canada Can Learn About Marijuana Legalizationby Lucas Laursen

Produced by Sy Mukherjee
@the_sy_guy
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

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