Insys Pharmaceutical Founder Gets 5 1/2 Years for Pushing Opioid, Execs Also Sentenced

BOSTON –The founder of the Arizona pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics was ordered to spend 5 1/2 years in prison Thursday for orchestrating a bribery and kickback scheme prosecutors said helped fuel the opioid crisis which has killed almost 400,000 people.

Local Boston ABC affiliate WCVB5 reports:

John Kapoor, 76, the former chairman of Insys Therapeutics, was sentenced in Boston’s federal court after a jury found him guilty of racketeering conspiracy last May. The 10-week trial revealed sensational details about the company’s marketing tactics, including testimony that a sales executive once gave a lap dance to a doctor the company was wooing. Kapoor was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.

He and others were accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to doctors across the United States to prescribe the company’s highly addictive oral fentanyl spray, known as Subsys. The bribes were paid in the form of fees for sham speaking engagements that were billed as educational opportunities for other doctors.

Prosecutors also said the company misled insurers to get payment approved for the drug, which is meant to treat cancer patients in severe pain and can cost as much as $19,000 a month.

Using laws designed to catch mob bosses, prosecutors secured the conviction of John Kapoor and six other Insys executives and employees last year on charges including racketeering conspiracy.

TIME reports:

The two others [Insys execs] were dealt lighter sentenced because they pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities. Former Insys CEO Michael Babich was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on Wednesday, while Alec Burlakoff, the former vice president of sales, was sentenced Thursday to more than 2 years.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told reporters he objected to the sentences in the case, which were far lower than what prosecutors sought.

My view is that the public interest demanded higher sentences for these defendants…These guys basically took a publicly traded pharma company and turned it into an engine for corrupting doctors and jeopardizing the health of men and women nationwide.

As part of a joint investigation between the Financial Times and FRONTLINE, Mr Burlakoff spoke to journalists under the supervision of federal prosecutors in Boston. The interview took place last year, on the condition that it was only published after sentencing.

 

 

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