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Opioid Exec Gave Doctor Lap Dance to Promote Sales

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 31, 2019 2:50 PM

Sales, no matter what you're selling, are a tough racket. You need a great product, great pitch, and a great sales team. And it helps if you have a "closer" on that team -- someone who can come in late and seal the deal. It also helps if that closer is a former stripper and she's giving lap dances in clubs to your doctor clients to get them to prescribe more of your opioids.

That accusation was lobbed at Sunrise Lee, a former regional sales director for Insys Therapeutics, and was made during court testimony involving federal racketeering charges against Lee and four other Insys executives. Fun!

Dancing and Drugs

The stripper-turned-pharma sales exec story all centers around Dr. Paul Madison, who allegedly ran a "shady pill mill" in a "dingy strip mall in a not-so-nice area of town" and was known for prescribing a lot of opioids. Insys was in the business of selling opioids, especially an addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl spray called Subsys. Insys wanted Madison's business, so they brought Madison to a club following a company-sponsored dinner event, and brought in their closer.

According to former sales representative Holly Brown's recollection of Madison and Lee that evening, "She was sitting on his lap, kind of bouncing around, and he had his hands all over her chest."

Quid Pro Quo

This might be a good time to mention that Lee had no prior experience in the pharmaceutical industry before joining Insys, and Brown also testified that Lee dressed in a "sexually suggestive manner" and "showed more cleavage than the average sales rep." Former Vice President of Sales Alec Burlakoff -- who was also charged in the racketeering case and is cooperating with investigators -- was also quoted as saying that "doctors really enjoyed spending time with [Lee]" and that she was "more of a closer."

Insys left nothing to chance however, and also paid Madison at least $70,800 in "speaker fees" to pimp its products at events.

Madison was convicted in November of unrelated charges that he defrauded insurers into paying for unperformed chiropractic procedures, and is awaiting sentencing.

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