Minnesota sues Arizona-based opioid manufacturer

Minnesota's attorney general is suing an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company, alleging it illegally marketed a painkiller made from the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Insys Therapeutics. The suit accuses the drugmaker of encouraging physicians to prescribe the painkiller Subsys at higher doses than recommended.

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The drug is used to manage pain for cancer patients, but Attorney General Lori Swanson says the company promoted it for improper uses.

The lawsuit also alleges the company paid doctors speaking fees to avoid gift-giving restrictions.

Several other states have sued Insys. Some have reached settlements.

Minnesota health officials have growing concerns about fentanyl abuse. Preliminary numbers show that fatal overdoses caused by the potent narcotic are increasing, with the drug contributing to more than 150 deaths in the state last year.