Global Navigation
Office of The Attorney General
The State of New Jersey Office of The Attorney General (Dept. of Law & Public Safety) The State of New Jersey NJ Home Services A to Z Departments/Agencies OAG Frequently Asked Questions
Services A to Z Departments/Agencies OAG Frequently Asked Questions
OAG Home
OAG Contact
spacer
Back to News Releases
OAG Home Attorney General's Biography
Attorney General's Biography
spacer spacer spacer
   
 
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
For Immediate Release: For Further Information:
May 30, 2018

Office of The Attorney General
- Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Veronica Allende, Director
Media Inquiries-
Peter Aseltine
609-292-4791
spacer
Citizen Inquiries-
609-984-5828
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer
Former Sales Representative for Insys Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Bribe Doctors to Prescribe the Super-Potent Fentanyl Spray Subsys
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer
click image to enlarge
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer

TRENTON - Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a former sales representative for Insys Therapeutics, Inc., maker of the powerful fentanyl-based opioid painkiller Subsys, pleaded guilty today to participating in a scheme in which doctors were bribed to increase off-label prescribing of the drug.

Michelle Breitenbach, 38, of Middletown, N.J., pleaded guilty today to a second-degree charge of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery before Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County. In pleading guilty, she admitted that as a New Jersey sales representative for Insys, she participated in a scheme in which doctors, in return for off-label prescribing of Subsys, were paid kickbacks and bribes in the form of purported speaker fees for marketing/education events.  Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, the state may recommend a sentence of up to five years in prison for Breitenbach.

Doctors who participated in the “Speakers Bureau Program” for Insys purportedly spoke at events to educate other doctors about Subsys.  In reality, the events involved free meals at expensive restaurants, and doctors were paid as speakers even if they did not speak, or if other doctors did not show up to listen. Breitenbach stated that management at Insys pressured sales representatives to promote the Speakers Bureau Program as a primary means to drive increased sales of Subsys.  She admitted that the payments made to the doctors as “speakers” were actually rewards for prescribing more Subsys.

Last year, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office filed suit against Insys and its billionaire founder, John N. Kapoor, accusing the defendants of endangering the public through an unlawful marketing campaign designed to exponentially increase sales of Subsys by making fraudulent claims and unlawfully incentivizing health care providers to prescribe Subsys to an inappropriately broad array of pain patients. The dangerously potent and addictive drug is a spray form of fentanyl that has FDA approval only for intense breakthrough pain related to end-stage cancer. While doctors have discretion to legally prescribe drugs for off-label use – meaning purposes beyond what is approved by the FDA – drug companies are prohibited from promoting their drugs for off-label use in an untruthful or misleading way, and from influencing healthcare providers’ prescription decisions with payments or other benefits.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office also filed suit last year against Purdue Pharma L.P. in connection with its alleged deceptive marketing of opioid painkillers, particularly OxyContin.

“As we have alleged in multiple court filings, a primary cause of the devastating opioid epidemic gripping the country has been overprescribing of prescription opioids, driven by the greed of manufacturers like Purdue Pharma and Insys,” said Attorney General Grewal.  “We are fighting the opioid epidemic on all fronts, including through criminal prosecutions and civil actions against mercenary pharmaceutical companies, their employees, and irresponsible prescribers.”

“This former sales rep admitted her role in a scheme to pressure doctors to prescribe more Subsys in return for so-called speaker fees and other perks,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “When doctors receive improper incentives to prescribe drugs, self-interest can cloud or supplant their medical judgment, with dangerous results, particularly when a risky, addictive opioid like Subsys is involved.”

Deputy Attorneys General Brian Faulk and Jillian Carpenter are prosecuting the case, and Deputy Attorney General Faulk took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. They are assigned to the investigation with Detective John Neggia, under the supervision of Lt. Lisa Shea and Deputy Director Christine Hoffman of the Division of Criminal Justice. 

Sentencing for Breitenbach is scheduled for July 6.

On May 4, the Attorney General’s Office and Division of Consumer Affairs announced that the Board of Medical Examiners had revoked the license of a Cherry Hill, N.J., family physician, Dr. Vivienne Matalon, for indiscriminately prescribing Subsys to three patients, including a woman who died while taking the drug. The Attorney General’s Office also has filed a pending complaint seeking to revoke the license of Warren County pain management practitioner Dr. Kenneth Sun for allegedly accepting over $136,000 from Insys while indiscriminately prescribing Subsys. His license currently is suspended.


Defense Attorney:
For Breitenbach: Nicholas C. Harbist, Esq., Blank Rome LLP, Princeton, N.J.


Follow the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office online at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flicker & YouTube. The social media links provided are for reference only. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.

spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer
 
News Index Page I top
 
Executive Assistant Attorney General
Attorney General's Message Ask the Attorney General
Contact OAG About OAG
OAG News OAG Frequently Asked Questions
OAG Library Employment
OAG Grants Proposed Rules
OAG History OAG Services A-Z
Statutes
OAG Agencies / Programs / Units
Other News Pages Otras Noticias en Español Division of NJ State Police Division of Law News Governor's Office News Division of Highway Traffic Safety News Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Juvenile Justice Commission News Division on Civil Rights News Division of Consumer Affairs News Division of Criminal Justice News Election Law Enforcement Commission Division of Gaming Enforcement News
NJ State Police News Governor's Office News Division of Highway Traffic Safety News Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Juvenile Justice Commission News Division on Civil Rights News Division of Consumer Affairs News Division of Criminal Justice News Election Law Enforcement Commission Division of Elections News Division of Gaming Enforcement News Office of Government Integrity News
   
Contact Us | Privacy Notice | Legal Statement | Accessibility Statement
NJ Home Logo
Departmental: OAG Home | Contact OAG | About OAG | OAG News | OAG FAQs
Statewide: NJ Home | Services A to Z | Departments/Agencies | FAQs
Copyright © State of New Jersey
This page is maintained by OAG Communications. Comments/Questions: email or call 609-292-4925
OAG Home OAG Home NJ State Police News Governor's Office News Division of Highway Traffic Safety News Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Juvenile Justice Commission News Division on Civil Rights News Division of Consumer Affairs News Division of Criminal Justice News Election Law Enforcement Commission Division of Elections News Division of Gaming Enforcement News Office of Government Integrity News Click to Enlarge Image Click to Enlarge Image Click to Enlarge Graphic Click to enlarge chart Click to enlarge map Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click to Enlarge Click on image to enlarge... Click on image to enlarge... Click to enlarge...Click to enlarge...Click to enlarge...Click to enlarge... Click to enlarge... click to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlargeclick to enlarge click to enlarge