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Minnesota will get restitution, documents from bankrupt opioid maker

(Getty Images)

ST. PAUL — Minnesota will get a piece of the assets of a bankrupt drug maker involved in the national opioid addiction crisis.

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Friday that a federal bankruptcy court in Delaware has approved a multi-state plan to liquidate the assets of Insys Therapeutics Inc. The company is one of two facing a lawsuit from Minnesota and other states for its role in misleading the public about the dangers of opioid painkillers.

The company filed for bankruptcy in June, days after agreeing to pay $225 million to settle fraud claims. A company executive was sentenced to 33 months in prison Monday for his role in a bribery and kickback scheme.

Under the bankruptcy plan, Insys also will release millions of pages of internal documents about how it marketed Subsys, a fentanyl opioid spray. The company will also pay damages to states, local governments and American Indian tribes.

Minnesota sued Insys in Hennepin County District Court in 2018 alleging the company illegally marketed the painkiller. Its methods included sales quotas, cash incentives and speaker fees for high volume prescribers.

“There’s no other way around it: Insys valued its profits over people’s lives,” Ellison said. “Minnesotans are safer because it’s now gone.”

Ellison noted that the company’s assets will be used to fight the opioid crisis that has killed 422 Minnesotans since 2017. He added that documents released under the settlement will pull back the curtain on drugmakers marketing tactics.

Cody Winberg, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, said the settlement holds the company accountable for its misconduct.

“It is imperative that drugmakers market their products in compliance with the law,” Wiberg said. “Insys promoted a dangerous opioid beyond its approved uses and made improper payments to Minnesota prescribers, putting the public health at risk.”

Minnesota joined Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York in voting to accept the settlement. Ellison said a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family is ongoing.

It is unclear how much Minnesota will receive from the settlement, but it will go into a fund created last year when lawmakers approved a new fee for opioid manufacturers and distributors. The fee is expected to raise about $20 million a year to fund addiction treatment and prevention programs.

“No amount of money can fully compensate states and communities — much less survivors and family members — for the death, damage, and destruction that Insys and other opioid manufacturers have inflicted,” Ellison said. “Still, a measure of justice has been done with this settlement that permanently shuts down this very bad actor that has irreparably harmed too many Minnesotans.”