A pharmaceutical company specializing in a form of fentanyl, the painkiller that has caused a surge in overdoses across the nation as a result of being 30-50 times more potent than heroin, has contributed $500,000 to the campaign opposing cannabis legalization in Arizona.
Fentanyl and cannabis have both been in the news a good bit lately. Cannabis has been getting mostly good press, with several states set to potentially legalize this November and most Americans no longer viewing it as harmful. Fentanyl, on the other hand, has not had such great press lately. The DEA issued an alert last year stating that the drug was being more commonly cut into heroin, causing overdoses even among practiced users. In April, recording legend Prince died of a fentanyl overdose and over 1,000 people in Ohio alone suffered the same fate last year.
Cannabis and opiates shared a headline last week when NPR reported that while teen use of painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin has plummeted from 8.1 percent to 3.3 percent between 2003 and 2015, marijuana use among the same demographic has trended the opposite way.
There seems to be a correlation between medical marijuana legalization and a decline in opiate overdose. States with MMJ programs experience a whopping 25 percent fewer overdoses from prescription drugs, according to a study by John Hopkins University.
So, the good news is that where marijuana is legal, fewer people die from opiates. The bad news is, if you’re a pharmaceutical company like Insys Therapeutics, which makes all of its money from selling the fentanyl sublingual spray Subsys, the reason fewer people are dying is that fewer people are using.
That brings us to Insys’s generous donation of half a million dollars to the cause of suppressing an organic alternative to their drug, the largest contribution to the effort in Arizona by more than 400 percent, according to RT. Subsys, like CBD oil, is used to relieve pain caused by severe cancer. It has some stiff competition in CBD in that cannabis has the benefit of not being addictive or causing thousands of overdose deaths per year.
According to Insys, the contribution has nothing whatsoever to do with the financial stakes of implementing more legal marijuana markets. In a statement, the company said that it wishes to block legal cannabis “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.” We’re assuming, since the company is taking on altruistic causes that have nothing whatsoever to do with their market shares, that it’s also contributing at least half a million to Syrian refugees and curbing the spread of the Zyka virus.
But Insys, shockingly, doesn’t have the most angelic corporate history. Just last month, the Illinois Attorney General brought a lawsuit against the company alleging that they had sold and marketed Subsys for uses other than cancer treatment, the only use it is approved by the FDA for. The Attorney General Lisa Madigan said that Insys’s “desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients’ health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes.”
So, basically we’re saying that the good people at Insys, like say CEO John N. Kappor and CFO Darryl S. Baker, are pretty cool guys and not evil at all.
Photo via Flickr user Me