Thursday, July 18, 2024

Company That Makes Deadly Painkiller Donates $500,000 To Keep Marijuana Illegal

Insys Therapeutics, a company that manufactures synthetic cannabis and the deadly painkiller Subsys fentanyl, has donated $500,000 to keep marijuana illegal in Arizona, according to campaign finance reports obtained by the Phoenix New Times.

The company makes Syndros, which was recently approved by the FDA for treatment of AIDS and cancer patients’ symptoms and relies on a synthetic version of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The drug is expected to launch soon, though it’s still awaiting DEA approval.

It might seem obvious why a company that hopes to profit from selling fake cannabinoids would work to keep the real stuff illegal, but Insys insists it’s just looking out for the kids.

“[Insys] has joined a broad alliance of elected officials, health care organizations and business leaders in opposing Prop. 205 because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children,” the company said in a statement to The Arizona Republic: “Insys firmly believes in the potential clinical benefits of cannabinoids. Like many in the healthcare community, we hope that patients will have the opportunity to benefit from these potential products once clinical trials demonstrate their safe and effective use.”

As if that statement weren’t ludicrous enough on its own, remember the company also makes and markets fentanyl, the powerful painkiller linked to thousands of deadly overdoses. What’s more is the Insys has been accused of illegal marketing. From the Washington Post:

The company is facing state and federal investigations, as well as a shareholder lawsuit, over allegations that it improperly marketed the drug to doctors in an effort to boost sales.

In February, a former sales rep for the company pleaded guilty to fraud charges stemming from a kickback scheme involving Subsys fentanyl purchases. Last month, two former employees pleaded not guilty after being arrested for allegedly participating in a similar fentanyl kickback scheme.

As Tom Angell of the pro-marijuana group Marijuana Majority put it in a statement: “It’s difficult to understand how people who profit from selling a drug like fentanyl can keep a straight face while arguing that marijuana is just too dangerous to legalize.”

And as the Post notes, the donation from Insys represents one-third of the total amount raised by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, the group opposing legalization; by comparison, The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has raised $3 million.

According to a recent Arizona Republic poll, 50 percent of the registered voters surveyed favor legalization, 40 percent oppose it, and 10 percent remain undecided.


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