Executive gave lap dance to doctor in drug bribes scheme

sunrise_lee Sunrise Lee, a former Insys Therapeutics Inc regional sales director | Reuters

Meeting deadlines and targets can be tedious. Ask this pharmaceutical executive who performed a lap dance on a doctor to get a prescription— now that's a hard earned dollar. Sunrise Lee, who was formerly a stripper, was seen bouncing around Dr Paul Madison's lap at a club called The Underground at Chicago.

She is one of the accused executives who have used kickbacks and dodgy tactics to gain prescriptions of a powerful painkiller. The drug in question is a highly addictive fentanyl spray known to be more potent than morphine. Four former executives and Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor, including Lee were testified in front of jurors on second day of the federal trial. The exotic dancer was said to be hired despite not having any experience in the pharmaceutical world. The kickbacks often included social gatherings where doctors could enjoy a fancy meal with their families.

Holly Brown, who worked as an Insys sales representative, told jurors that her superiors encouraged her to focus her attention on a doctor who was known for prescribing lots of opioids in Chicago and northwest Indiana.

Brown said she had concerns about Dr. Paul Madison, describing his office as a "shady operation" being run out of a "dingy strip mall in a not-so-nice area of town."

Despite that, Madison became a speaker for Insys and started getting paid, Brown said. She said she struggled to get other doctors to attend Madison's speaking events because of his unsavoury reputation, so Madison would invite his friends.

Brown described going to a club after dinner in Chicago with Lee, Dr Madison and another representative. At one point, Brown said, she saw Lee sitting on Madison's lap and "bouncing around," with Madison's hands "inappropriately all over" Lee's chest.

Lee's lawyer, Peter Hortsmann, denied the allegation during his opening statement Monday after prosecutors had mentioned it and accused them of "objectifying her in the same way Alec Burlakoff did and Dr. Madison did."

On Tuesday, Hortsmann tried to prove that Brown's memory was faulty, noting that they all had been drinking. He also pressed Brown on whether she had been warned that Madison had a "certain reputation with female sales reps" and whether it seemed that Madison "appeared to be taking advantage" of Lee at the club. Brown agreed to both of Hortsmann's statements.

Madison was convicted in autumn in an unrelated matter on a variety of charges, including health care fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March. Madison's lawyer maintained that his client had no comment.

In the meantime, lawyers for Kapoor, 75, and the others have denied all wrongdoing. Kapoor's attorneys told jurors as the trial opened Monday that any criminal activity was orchestrated by Alec Burlakoff, former vice president of sales, who pleaded guilty to the kickback scheme and is expected to testify against Kapoor.

The case has put a spotlight on the federal government's efforts to go after those it says are responsible for fuelling the deadly drug crisis.

Testimony will continue Wednesday in the trial, which could last more than three months.