The UCSF-JHU Opioid Industry Documents Archive (OIDA) added more than 320,000 documents to the Insys Litigation Documents collection this week.
The bulk of this batch of documents date to 2013, when Insys became a publicly traded company. Notable in 2013 is the company’s creation of its Insys Reimbursement Center, which was a central component of litigation against Insys. Also in 2013, a former employee filed a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General subpoenaed Insys’s marketing and sales documents.
This release will bring the total of public Insys documents to more than 1.2 million; the Insys collection ultimately will contain several million documents that are currently being processed chronologically. Processed documents are being made public on a rolling basis with monthly releases expected in 2023–2024.
Attending the Association of Healthcare Journalists’ conference in St. Louis? OIDA will be featured in the session "Sleuthing for Stories About the Opioid Crisis" on March 11.
Opioid Industry Documents Archive
We added 127,511 documents to the UCSF-JHU Opioid Industry Documents Archive's Insys Litigation Documents collection. These documents, which arise from Insys’s early years bringing the fentanyl spray Subsys to market (2012–2013), shed new light on the genesis of the company’s speaker program and reimbursement center (See the Insys At a Glance page for more information), both of which have featured prominently in litigation against Insys.
This release is the fourth batch of Insys documents to be added to OIDA; the Insys collection ultimately will contain several million documents that are currently being processed chronologically. Processed documents will be made public on a rolling basis with monthly releases expected in 2023–2024. Information arising from a December 2022 release (UCSF News, Johns Hopkins University News) served as the basis for reporting from USA Today.
Opioid Industry Documents Archive National Advisory Committee Update
We are pleased to welcome four new members to our National Advisory Committee, a group that supports the Archive through expert recommendations on the project’s development and sustainability pertaining to use, transparency, accessibility, impact, and other measures: Sandy Alexander (former Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General), Michelle Muffett-Lipinski (recovery advocate and Founding Principal, Northshore Recovery High School), Melina Sherman (communications scholar, Knology), and Anthony Ryan Hatch (Professor of the Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University). Many thanks to our outgoing NAC member Beth Macy (author of Raising Lazarus and Dopesick) for her remarkable service.
3,600+ New USRTK Food Industry Documents Added
The 3,634 new documents posted today were donated by USRTK and acquired in their ongoing investigations into the influence of large food and beverage companies on academic partnerships and government regulatory processes around sugary beverages and obesity, among other topics.
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Opioid Industry Documents Research and Community Data Engagement - The UCSF OIDA Postdoctoral Fellow will pursue original, publishable research using materials housed in OIDA and work closely with the archive research team to enhance the accessibility and usability of archival materials for a diverse array of communities, with a particular focus on racial and health equity. Fellows will work on a multidisciplinary team including faculty, other postdoctoral fellows and research assistants and will be mentored by and work closely with researchers and information specialists at UCSF. Fellows will be based at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education (https://tobacco.ucsf.edu/) and participate fully in the fellowship program. Fellows will also be affiliated with the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the UCSF School of Medicine (https://humsci.ucsf.edu/).
Postdoctoral Fellowship in Tobacco Control Research -
The CTCRE Postdoctoral Fellowship offers diverse educational and research opportunities, including a grant writing seminar, graduate research positions, advocacy training, and individualized documents training. Work spans policy and historical research, economics, and science. Fellows are recruited from a variety of fields including the basic sciences, social sciences, public health practitioners, clinical fields, political science, history, economics, law, and marketing. Fellowship stipends range from $55,500 - $66,600, depending on years of postdoctoral experience.
More about the fellowships and application submission
The Digital Health Humanities Pilot (DHHP) will facilitate new insights into historical health data. Participants from all disciplines (including faculty, staff, and other learners) will learn how to evaluate and integrate digital methods and “archives as data” into their research through a range of offerings and trainings utilizing datasets from holdings within the UCSF Archives and Special Collections (including the AIDS History Project and Industry Documents Library, among others.)
Check out the workshops and sign up!
UC Love Data Week (February 13-17)
Want more information on working with data?
The UC-wide Love Data Week offers free sessions on topics such as data access, management, security, sharing, and preservation.
As 2022 comes to a close, we’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you for your continuing support and connection to the Industry Documents Library.
We’re grateful for your interest in industry documents and for your participation in the IDL community, whether that’s through documents research, workshops and trainings, project partnerships, or strategic planning and guidance.
This year we celebrated 20 years (!!!) of making industry documents available online and we appreciate all the ways you’ve worked with us to make the IDL stronger.
Here are some of the achievements you helped us reach in 2022:
17,508,831 documents now available through IDL!
We added 2.3 million new documents to the collections in 2022 -
If you’re able, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Industry Documents Library to help us preserve and provide access to the collections for years to come.
From all of us at the IDL, we wish you a safe and festive holiday season, and a healthy and hopeful New Year ahead.Kate, Rachel, Rebecca, Sven, Melissa and Erik
When I started reporting on the Insys Therapeutics saga in late 2016, for a feature published much later in The New York Times Magazine, the story was still unfolding. Some senior executives of the company had recently been indicted, but the founder and majority owner, John Kapoor, was still untouched. His arrest was still to come. It was unclear where it would all lead.
What was clear, however, was that the story would deliver new revelations, the lifeblood of journalism. For me, the draw was not just for more insight into the incredible human drama inside Insys and at the pain clinics its sales force descended on to sell their fentanyl drug (though admittedly there was plenty of curiosity about that). The hunger was also for something bigger—for an unprecedented access to insider knowledge about how powerful opioid painkillers are marketed and sold in America, in the midst of a national health crisis.
When drug companies come under investigation for their marketing and sales practices, as they routinely do, the Justice Department’s tried-and-true strategy is to pursue the company in a probe that looks more like a negotiation among colleagues; it involves packs of lawyers, many of them billing unbelievable amounts, who talk things over. The result is a settlement years later—a dollar figure that, for the company, puts the whole ordeal in the past. Whether the company admits to wrongdoing or not (and more typically it doesn’t), the unsavory details never get a full airing.
In the Insys case, prosecutors broke new ground by criminally charging the top executives as individuals. That brought a new level of accountability into play. Perhaps even more important, it pried open a window onto how the industry works on a granular level: the executives faced trial (pleading guilty carried too high a price), and there is nothing like the public reckoning of a trial. The internal strategies and tactics, the dossiers about the physician “targets,” the bonus schemes that invited corruption, the pretextual “advisory boards” and “speaker bureaus,” the cheat sheets to deceive the insurers, the emails full of code words and infighting—it was everything we would never have seen in a settlement. I felt privileged to be there, attending every hour of a 10-week trial (and the agonizing four-week wait for the jury to return a verdict).
This release from the Opioid Industry Document Archive, adding up to approximately a million pages of newly public internal records, will take the public’s insight to a still deeper level. Scholars and reporters will be able to pursue new angles, focus their searches, and delve deeply into exactly how the opioid epidemic became big business. One lesson I drew from the Insys story was that the company’s methods were more brazen and careless — worse‚ in almost every way — from those of their peers, and that shouldn’t get lost in the discussion. But they were more different in degree than they were in kind. New dives into this archive will shed light not only on Insys — which was just one company, and not a very big one — but on how pharma continues to do business to this day.
One million pages of records from Insys Therapeutics were added to the Opioid Industry Documents Archive (OIDA) today.
The documents stem from litigation against the Arizona-based company, which specialized in drugs to treat cancer pain. Subsys, a fast-acting and highly potent opioid painkiller, had been approved by the FDA only to treat pain in cancer patients already receiving around-the-clock opioid therapy.
The newest additions to the Insys Litigation Documents collection — about 760,000 documents, mostly emails — show that Insys improperly sold vast amounts of its addictive product for off-label uses like non-cancer neck and back pain. The documents also bring to light how the company pressured doctors and deployed deceptive marketing to increase sales and earn millions of dollars in profits.
Read the press release - December 8, 2022: Archive Shows How Fentanyl Promotion Helped Drive Opioid Epidemic
via UCSF News, via Johns Hopkins University News.
The release of these documents coincides with the USA Today investigation published 12/8/2022 - 'Eat what you kill': How a fentanyl drugmaker bribed doctors, harmed patients and collected millions. The article details the role of Insys Therapeutics in the opioid epidemic.
New Purdue Pharma Collections
The story that became the basis of The Pharmacist originated out of a 2016 fellowship on the opioid epidemic in Baltimore. During one of the lectures, a member of the CDC presented a heat map detailing counties around the country that had experienced the highest rate of opioid overdoses from 1999 to the present. In 1999-2000, most of the country was green or blue, meaning the rates were quite low. But I noticed that St. Bernard Parish, which sits right next to Orleans Parish on the Gulf of Mexico, was dark orange, almost red.
When I got back to New Orleans, where I was covering the opioid epidemic, I scheduled a meeting with the communications director of the St. Bernard Parish sheriff’s office. I wanted to know why the rate of opioid overdose was so high around the turn of the century. To my surprise, I was met by half a dozen sheriff’s deputies and the sheriff himself, whose son had recently died of a heroin overdose. They began regaling me with stories about what was happening in St. Bernard back then.
As they explained it, the opioid epidemic was already out of control. This was largely due to a single pill mill doctor in New Orleans, just across the parish line. Her clinic was open 24 hours a day, they said, and got especially busy in the middle of the night. When I asked what happened to the doctor, they brought up a local pharmacist named Dan Schneider. Dan had lost his son to a crack deal gone wrong in 1999, they said. And when Dan learned that this doctor’s prescribing habits were causing his son’s friends to overdose and die, he made it his mission to shut this pill mill doctor down.
I called Dan Schneider that day, and I kept talking with him for months to make sure his incredible story was true. I published the story in The Times-Picayune in October 2017. The following year, I pitched the story to a documentary production company in Brooklyn, and Netflix approved the concept soon after. That’s how The Pharmacist came to be.
The Pharmacist tells the story of the impact of the opioid epidemic on people’s lives. And while we didn’t address it in the documentary, the Opioid Industry Documents Archive (OIDA) shines a light on the industry that contributed to the epidemic. Through document disclosure, people can access industry litigation documents and understand the corporate behavior that helped trigger the epidemic. By accessing these documents and telling people’s stories, we can bring real accountability and find solutions to make sure this kind of public health disaster won’t happen again.