Following the massive success of Painkillers, Netflix brings another new story about a pharmaceutical company and its ties to the crisis, including the Sackler family’s role in the opioid epidemic. Penn appeared on the Hustlers streamer on October 27, already in the news for portraying a company that bribed doctors to buy the highly addictive drug Subsys.
Only after this, the doctors will prescribe medicines to the patients. This movie stars big A-listers like Emily Blunt, Chris Evans, and Catherine O’Hara, so you already know it will be good. But is Pain Hustlers, like Pain Killers, based on a true story? Or is it really just a nice fantasy?
Is the movie Penn Hustlers based on a real story?
Yes, this new film is based on a true story. The film is actually based on Evan Hughes’ book Pain Hustlers: Crime and Punishment at an Opioid Startup, which was originally called Hard Sell. Hughes’ book is based on a New York Times article he wrote, published in May 2018, called “The Pain Hustlers”. The book tells the story of pharma executive John Kapoor, who founded Insys Therapeutics in the early 2000s. Hughes’ article stated that the Arizona-based pharmaceutical company had “only one branded product, a new and highly potent opioid painkiller, Subsys”, which was brought to market in 2012. Kapoor developed a new formulation of an incredibly addictive opioid and recruited a team of dedicated salespeople who targeted doctors who were receptive to his marketing and bribery tactics.
The drug was the company’s niche product, approved only for seriously ill cancer patients. However, the company’s direction to promote it more widely led to Insys becoming a Wall Street sensation. “Changed into,” is all it says in the book’s Amazon description.
What is Subsys?
Subsys is an opioid painkiller that belongs to a special class of highly addictive fentanyl products called TIRF drugs, which according to the NYT are “particularly promising for treating ‘breakthrough’ cancer pain.” So basically, this means that it can help relieve any pain that the long-term opioids cancer patients couldn’t manage were already taking.
Is Insys rated as a reliable company?
Yes, Iinsys is—and was—a reliable company. Like the US Attorney’s Office based in Arizona.
Is John Kapoor a real person?
Yes, John Kapoor was an easygoing person. If seen, according to Forbes, he was born in India and he went to college in America with the help of a scholarship. Kapoor created a spray called Subsys that used fentanyl for pain relief. While it was also approved to help cancer patients struggling with severe pain, Kapoor led a team that bribed doctors to prescribe the drug to patients even when it was not medically necessary.
What happened to John Kapoor?
John became a mega-billionaire – Forbes once called him “one of the most successful pharmaceutical entrepreneurs in America” – but law enforcement eventually caught wind of the company’s bribery techniques.
In 2018, John and six other senior Insys executives were ultimately charged with bribery and fraud, but pleaded not guilty, according to the NYT. In 2019, he was indicted by a federal jury along with four other Insys executives for conspiracy to commit fraud. John was sentenced to 66 months in prison “for often being medically unnecessary”. He is currently serving his sentence in a federal prison in Phoenix with a release date of December 17, 2023. According to Frontline, John After Insys was ordered to pay $225 million to the U.S. government and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2019, the company’s drug Subsys was sold to Wyoming-based BTCP Pharma.
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