Bribing Doctors, Making Millions

June 23, 2020

How a drug company made millions pushing an opioid painkiller up to 100 times stronger than morphine, as many on Wall Street looked the other way. FRONTLINE filmmaker Tom Jennings and Financial Times reporter Hannah Kuchler discuss their new investigation of Insys Therapeutics — from a jaw-dropping interview with a former sales director who admits to bribing doctors to prescribe the highly addictive drug Subsys, to how Wall Street propelled Insys’ success even as questions emerged about its practices, to what role drug companies’ pursuit of profits has played in the opioid crisis: “I think that it’s really interesting just how people are able to disconnect their actions from the consequences, especially in business,” Kuchler says.


With federal prosecutors using laws designed to catch mob bosses, Insys would ultimately become the first pharmaceutical company to have its top executives sentenced to prison time in connection with the opioid epidemic. For more on Insys’ spectacular rise and fall — and its consequences — watch the documentary Opioids, Inc. from FRONTLINE and the FT, and read our in-depth joint reporting — also available at


Correction: An earlier version of this page misstated the strength of Insys’s painkiller.

The FRONTLINE Dispatch is made possible by the Abrams Foundation Journalism Initiative.