You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Former Regional Sales Director for Insys Therapeutics Sentenced for Racketeering Conspiracy

Defendant recruited and bribed corrupt and prolific prescribers of highly potent opioid

BOSTON – A former Regional Sales Director for Insys Therapeutics was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for bribing practitioners to prescribe Subsys, a fentanyl-based pain medication, often when medically unnecessary.

Sunrise Lee, 38, of Bryant City, MI, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs to 1 year and 1 day in prison, three years of supervised release, restitution to be determined at a later date and ordered to forfeit the proceeds of the offense (the exact amount to be determined at a later date). The government recommended a sentence of 72 months in prison.

In May 2019, Lee was convicted by a federal jury of racketeering conspiracy along with four other Insys executives.

Subsys, a drug owned and manufactured by Insys Therapeutics, Inc., is a fentanyl-based, rapid-onset opioid approved to treat cancer patients suffering intense breakthrough pain. From May 2012 to December 2015, Lee and her co-defendants conspired to bribe practitioners, many of whom operated pain clinics, in order to induce them to prescribe Subsys to patients, often when medically unnecessary. They also conspired to mislead and defraud health insurance providers who were reluctant to approve payment for the expensive drug when it was prescribed for patients without cancer. Medicare would not approve payment for the drug unless the patient was being treated for breakthrough cancer pain. 

Lee joined Insys as a District Sales Director, excelling at recruiting and cultivating high prescribers of Insys, including a pain management physician in Michigan and another physician outside Chicago. The prescribers bribed by Lee became some of the most prolific prescribers of the drug. Lee obtained agreements from the doctors to write significant quantities of Subsys prescriptions, and prescriptions in increasing dosages, in exchange for participation in the Insys speaker program, a vehicle used to pay kickbacks. Lee was promoted to Regional Sales Director in 2013. In that capacity, she was responsible for managing nearly a third of the company’s sales force.     

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Phillip Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General; Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D. Acting Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs of the U.S. Food and Drug; Brian D. Boyle, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Boston Field Division; Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office; Carol S. Hamilton, Acting Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Boston Regional Office; Joseph W. Cronin, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Division; Matthew Modafferi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, Northeast Area Field Office; Jeffrey K. Stachowiak, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General; and Thomas W. South, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations of the Office of Personnel Management made the announcement. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys K. Nathaniel Yeager, Fred M. Wyshak and David G. Lazarus prosecuted the case for Lelling’s Health Care Fraud Unit.

Topic(s): 
Health Care Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated January 22, 2020