Insy’s Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company, has been in the news several times in recent months for assorted reasons. In December of last year, several of their higher-ups, including the founder and CEO, were arrested on charges that they bribed doctors to unnecessarily prescribe a drug containing the powerful and deadly opioid fentanyl.
Most recently, the motives behind their $500,000 donation to the group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group opposing marijuana legalization in Arizona, have been called into question.
These questions have been raised because the company has just received preliminary approval from the DEA to develop a synthetic marijuana drug called Syndros. Opponents have noted that their actions suggest a self-serving desire to suppress the legalization of marijuana for their own profit.
However, Insys claims that they oppose legalization because it has a high potential for abuse and they wish to develop a safer way to harness it’s pain relieving qualities. Syndros is marketed as a drug that will relieve nausea, weight loss and vomiting in AIDS and cancer patients. Syndros is a schedule II drug which indicates it has potential medical benefits but a high potential for abuse, while marijuana is schedule I which indicates a high potential for abuse without a medically accepted purpose.
Marketed to cancer patients, those with eating disorders, and other medical use, synthetic marijuana actually has a history of being more dangerous than natural cannabis plants, yet it is schedule II while marijuana is schedule I.
While Insys may claim to have Arizonans best interests at heart, it seems sketchy that their push against legalization coincides with their shiny new synthetic marijuana drug.
Insys was the only pharmaceutical company to donate money to anti-legalization foundations last year, which paints a portrait either of a company that cares more about the potential damage to citizens caused by marijuana use to citizens than other companies, or a greedy company with a questionable past trying to corner the market on potentially useful CBD based painkillers. For this author, it becomes harder and harder to give pharmaceutical companies the benefit of the doubt with each passing scandal.
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