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Opioid Drug Maker and CEO Under Fire for Bribing Doctors
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John Kapoor

Summary: The founder of an opioid drug company is being charged with bribing doctors to write prescriptions for a potent opioid intended for cancer patients.

The billionaire founder of Insys Therapeutics and several top executives and managers for the company are accused of bribing doctors to write unnecessary prescriptions for a strong opioid drug. Founder and CEO John Kapoor is charged with fraud and racketeering.


Kapoor was charged the same day President Donald Trump declared a nationwide public health emergency for the opioid crisis plaguing the country and taking the lives of thousands each year. Kapoor and his company are accused of wrongdoing in several courts.

The newest indictment against Kapoor, 74, follows other indictments against the former CEO, executives, and managers for allegedly providing kickbacks for doctors that prescribe the strong opioid Subsys. The drug is supposed to only be for cancer patients with severe pain.

Kapoor and the other defendants are accused of offering perks to doctors in exchange for large amounts of prescriptions written for the fentanyl-based pain medication. Most of the people that received the prescriptions did not have cancer. The claims against Kapoor and the others named also include misleading and defrauding insurance companies that did not want to approve payments for the drug when they were prescribed to patients without cancer.

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The U.S. prosecutors in Boston leading the case explain that they plan to go after problem opioid makers in a similar fashion to how they go after “cartels or street-level drug dealers.” Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said, “In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit.”

The judge set Kapoor’s bail at $1 million. Forbes estimates that he is worth $1.75 billion. He must also wear an electronic monitoring device and hand over his passports. Kapoor came to the U.S. from India in order to get a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. He also founded a company that operates several restaurants.

His attorney Brian T. Kelly said outside of court, “He is not guilty of these charges, he intends to fight it vigorously.” Kelly is a high-profile attorney in Boston, who tried gangster James “Whitey” Bugler as a federal prosecutor.

Former Insys CEO Michael L. Babich and five other executives and managers are scheduled to go to trial next October. They have all pleaded not guilty. The indictment naming Kapoor also brings new charges against the group. Some of the Inys employees have pleaded guilty to felony charges around the country, as well as some health care providers. A doctor from Rhode Island pleaded guilty two days ago to accepting kickbacks for prescribing the addictive fentanyl spray.

Insys has taken steps to distance itself from the charged employees, replacing most of the management and sales staff. A spokesman said, “We have taken necessary and appropriate steps to prevent past mistakes from happening in the future, and are committed to conducting business according to high ethical standards and the interests of patients. We also continue to work with relevant authorities to resolve issues related to the misdeeds of former employees.”

The company has been under investigation for a number of years. In 2013, they received a subpoena from the Department of Health and Human Services for documents on the commercialization of Subsys. In 2014, they received another subpoena for documents on the sales and marketing of the drug. Kapoor was named the president and CEO suddenly in November 2015 when Babich mysteriously resigned.

Many states have been suing the company for their marketing practices.

Do you think Kapoor should be required to pay restitution for the damage he has been involved in creating? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about the opioid crisis, read these articles:



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