But, occasionally "big pharma" lives up to the stereotype.
Drug company sales rep admits bribing N.J. doctors to prescribe addictive painkillers
A former sales representative for a major drug manufacturer has admitted to charges she helped fuel the opioid addiction crisis by bribing doctors to prescribe a potent painkiller, authorities said.
Michelle Breitenbach, who worked for the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics, Inc., pleaded guilty Wednesday to a second-degree charge of conspiracy to commit commercial bribery, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice, which brought the charges.
Breitenbach's guilty plea comes after state authorities filed a civil lawsuit against her former employer, accusing Insys of "evil" practices that pushed doctors to prescribe its painkiller Subsys for conditions it was never intended to treat. The civil case is ongoing.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Wednesday that a "primary cause of the devastating opioid epidemic gripping the country has been overprescribing of prescription opioids, driven by the greed of manufacturers."
State authorities say the company gave kickbacks to doctors in the form of phony "speaker's fees" that really served as payments for "off-label" prescriptions that gave patients the painkillers for purposes not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
An NJ Advance Media investigation published last year found many doctors across the state received lucrative payments from drug companies. From 2013 to 2015, doctors in New Jersey were paid at least $1.67 million by pharmaceutical companies marketing various forms of of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, including Insys.