Opioid Company Made Rap Video With Dancing Fentanyl Mascot to Increase Sales

fentanyl opioid crisis company rap video
Bags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed at the office of the New York Attorney General, September 23, 2016 in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

An opiod-making company has come under fire after a corporate music video used to increase sales of their drugs emerged.

The bizarre rap video came to light earlier this week during the trial of Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder John Kapoor and four other former executives of the Arizona company, who are charged with bribing doctors to prescribe patients their powerful and addictive opioids. All have denied wrongdoing.

According to the Associated Press, the music video—titled "Great by Choice"—features suited sales reps rapping to the tune of a song by artist A$AP Rocky. It was shown at a 2015 national sales meeting to encourage reps to pressure doctors to give their patients higher doses of the fentanyl painkillers Subsys.

Though approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use by cancer patients, prosecutors say many of those who received the drug did not have cancer.

In the video, reps rap about titration—increasing a patient's prescription strength until it reaches the level required to block pain.

"I love titration, yeah, that's not a problem. I got new patients and I got a lot of 'em," the staff sing. "Build relationships that are healthy. Got more docs than Janelle's got selfies."

"What we built here can't be debated. Shout to Kapoor for what he created," the reps rap, referring to the founder of the company. "The competition just making noise. We're making history because we're great by choice."

The rapping, dancing staff are also joined by a person dressed up as a bottle of fentanyl—the highly addictive painkiller which has become synonymous with America's opioid crisis. The costume is marked with text reading 1,600 micrograms, which is the maximum dosage for the under-the-tongue spray.

At one point, the dancing fentanyl bottle then takes off the costume revealing the man inside—then-vice president of sales Alec Burlakoff, who pleaded guilty in November to racketeering conspiracy and is expected to testify against Kapoor during the trial.

The trial began last month and is expected to last several more weeks, the AP explained. One of the executives on trial is a former exotic dancer named Sunrise Lee who was hired as a regional sales manager despite having no experience in the pharmaceutical industry, according to prosecutors.

The executives are accused of fostering a culture of bribery and coercion to maximize the sales of their drugs. Last month, a former employee told jurors she watched Lee give a lapdance to a doctor in a Chicago nightclub to try and get him to write more prescriptions.

Kapoor's attorney, Beth Wilkinson, has sought to push all criminal responsibility onto Burlakoff and former CEO Michael Babich, who pleaded guilty in January and is also testifying against the company's founder. Wilkinson characterized both men as liars hoping to reduce their sentence by fingering Kapoor.

The case against Insys is one example of the government's efforts to punish those believed to be behind the opioid crisis gripping the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control a record 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017, a rising trend driven by prescription opioids.