Here Is the A$AP Rocky Parody Video by the Pharma Company Accused of Bribing Doctors
Several former executives for the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics are currently on trial in Boston on charges of racketeering, fraud, and conspiracy, in connection to an alleged nationwide scheme to pay doctors bribes and kickbacks in exchange for prescribing the company’s fentanyl-based pain medication Subsys to patients who would not otherwise require the drug. The executives are also accused of conspiring to mislead and defraud insurance providers that were reasonably reluctant to cover costs for a medication designed for cancer patients when prescribed to patients without cancer. If corrupting medical practices and gouging sick people weren’t reasons enough to loathe these alleged grifters, prosecutors on Wednesday played for jurors a video, originally shown at a national Insys sales meeting in 2015, in which several employees and one executive dressed as a Subsys spray bottle perform a parody version of A$AP Rocky’s 2012 single featuring Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and 2 Chainz, “Fuckin’ Problems,” rewritten with lyrics promoting Subsys and general salesmanship.
In the mock music video, entitled “Great by Choice,” two employees calling themselves Z Real and A Bean, alternately dressed in suits and vaguely Eminem-ish hoodies, rap to a version of Noah “40” Shebib and C. Papi’s beat from atop a rooftop, in front of a graffiti wall, and at a pool party. Their rendition of Rocky’s hook (“I love bad bitches, that’s a fuckin’ problem/And yeah I like to fuck, that’s a fuckin’ problem”) goes as follows: “I love titration, yeah that’s not a problem/I got new patients and I got a lot of ‘em.” Titration, reports tell me, refers to the process by which a drug’s dosage is increased. Other choice lyrics include “Build relationships that are healthy/Got more docs than Janelle’s got selfies,” and this, delivered in an interlude by the individual wearing the spray bottle costume: “My delivery is giving me/38 percent of this industry.” The end of the video shows one Alec Burlakoff—then-vice president of sales, who plead guilty this past November to one count of racketeering conspiracy and is expected to testify against his former colleagues—revealing himself to be the person wearing the Subsys bottle suit.
It’s all very strange and would leave a bad taste in your mouth even if it wasn’t true that the company behind the video allegedly paid doctors to prescribe more and higher dosages of the medication against their best medical advice. The fact that fentanyl’s proliferation as a cutting agent in street drugs has helped drive a nationwide opioid epidemic, and that several rappers, including Lil Peep and Mac Miller, have died of accidental overdoses involving fentanyl, makes the flippant hip-hop-ified nature with which Insys treats the aggressive commodification of its product that much more repellant. On the bright side, the suits on trial may soon be in prison. You can read the full indictment outlining their alleged misdeeds here.
Watch Z Real and A Bean’s “Great by Choice” video below.