By Bob Uphues
Riverside got an oblique mention on Jan. 30 during the federal trial in Boston of four executives of a pharmaceutical company accused of bribing physicians to prescribe a powerful opioid spray originally meant for terminal cancer patients.
In her testimony, Holly Brown, a former sales rep from Insys Therapeutics, the maker of the fentanyl spray Subsys, said one of the company's regional sales managers performed a "lap dance" on Dr. Paul C. Madison at a Chicago nightclub as part of her attempt to pressure Madison into prescribing the drug, according to the Associated Press.
For about four years starting in 2013, Madison operated his practice at Riverside Pain Management at 28 E. Burlington St. in Riverside. His medical license in Illinois was suspended in late 2016 for improperly prescribing controlled substances.
Last November, Madison was convicted of 11 counts of medical insurance fraud in a case unrelated to the Riverside practice. He faces up to 10 years in prison and will be sentenced in March.
Despite Madison's reputation, Insys Therapeutics reportedly sought him out, along with physicians, to push their fentanyl spray, Subsys. In exchange for prescribing the drug, Insys paid Madison tens of thousands of dollars to compensate him for hosting dinners to convince other doctors to do the same.
Federal prosecutors called the dinners "sham" speaking engagements and described the arrangement between Insys and its doctor-speakers as "a nationwide conspiracy to profit by using bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution" of Subsys.
At trial on Jan. 30, according to the AP, Brown said Madison had trouble attracting other doctors to his dinners because of his reputation and that they mostly were attended by Madison's friends.
An AP reporter covering the trial of Insys Therapeutics founder John Kapoor and four other top executives reported that the company had hired a woman named Sunrise Lee, "a former exotic dancer" with "no experience in the pharmaceutical world" to be a regional sales manager.
After one of Madison's "speaking engagements" at a Chicago restaurant, Brown, the former salesperson, went to a nightclub called Underground with Lee, Madison and another Insys employee.
While at the club, according to the AP's account of Brown's testimony, "she saw Lee sitting on Madison's lap and 'bouncing around,' with Madison's hands 'inappropriately all over' Lee's chest."
The attention must have worked, because Madison was the state of Illinois' top prescriber of the fentanyl spray, personally accounting for 60 percent of all Subsys prescriptions in the state.