Two former employees of Insys Therapeutics, Jonathan Roper and Fernando Serrano, were arrested on Thursday for allegedly participating in kickback schemes involving doctors who prescribed the company's main drug, Subsys, a pain medication containing fentanyl.
Headlines linking Prince's death to a fentanyl overdose have raised the profile of the opioid; however, CNBC has previously reported on the dangers of these highly addictive drugs and the alleged illegal tactics some pharmaceutical companies have employed to drive sales.
These include allegations against specialty pharmaceutical company Insys, whose market cap is down about a billion dollars since last year. Company officials weren't immediately available to comment on the charges against Roper and Serrano.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, Subsys has only one indication. It's meant for late-stage cancer patients with breakthrough pain, however, Insys has been accused of trying to push the drug far beyond cancer patients by convincing doctors to prescribe it for patients who have migraines or even minor neck or back pain.
According to physicians and experts, Subsys is about 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Roper and Serrano were charged with violating an anti-kickback statute, "in connection with their participation in a scheme to pay doctors thousands of dollars to participate in sham educational programs in order to induce the doctors to prescribe millions of dollars' worth of a fentanyl-based sublingual spray" the company manufactured.