The former head of sales of Arizona based drug firm Insys Therapeutics Inc. has formally pleaded guilty for his role in bribing doctors to prescribe his firm’s addictive fentanyl-based pain reliever drug when it was not needed. Alec Burlakoff of Florida was the former VP Sales of this Chandler, Arizona based drug firm who conspired with doctors to defraud insurance companies by prescribing this expensive painkiller drug. Court documents revealed that Burlakoff has formally agreed to cooperate with prosecutors to develop their case against Insys at a hearing early this week in District Court of Boston. According to prosecutors, Burlakoff is the first senior executive to admit guilty in their investigation.
The firm Insys Therapeutics is owned by billionaire John Kapoor who has been accused of wrongdoing along with five other co-defendants all of whom have pleaded not guilty to the charges. When the case came to light in August the firm agreed to pay $150 million to settle claims of insurance firms. A recent indictment that was filed in September holds Kapoor and others of conspiring to bribe doctors and urge them to prescribe drug Subsys to improve their sales and defraud insurance companies between 2012 and 2015.
Burlakoff has pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy for which he will get a smaller 20 years sentence in prison when the sentence begins in May 2019 and until then he will remain free. Subsys is a fentanyl-based spray that is used under the tongue to manage pain of cancer patients. This is an opioid that FDA says is 25-50 times more potent than heroin and was said to have killed singer Prince. According to the indictment Burlakoff and his group at Insys Therapeutics ran a sophisticated scheme in which pharmacy data was used to identify doctors that prescribed large doses of opioids.