Insys Therapeutics Executive John Kapoor Found Guilty In Opioid Bribery Case

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 1:32pm
Updated: Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 2:42pm

A jury has found one-time billionaire and drug company executive John Kapoor and his four co-defendants guilty of a racketeering conspiracy. The verdict came after 15 days of deliberations. 

The federal government accused Kapoor, the founder of Chandler-based Insys Therapeutics, and his co-defendants of running a nationwide bribery scheme. Between 2012 and 2015, Insys allegedly paid doctors to prescribe their fentanyl-based opioid medication for routine pain rather than for extreme pain, which is what the drug was approved for.

Prosecutors outlined a two-step approach that Insys followed to boost sales of their opioid painkiller, Subsys: first, bribe doctors and, then, lie to insurance companies. Prosecutors argued that Kapoor was motivated by money and willing to put patients' lives at stake to improve his bottom line.

Kapoor's attorney sought to shift the blame onto the company's former vice president of sales, Alec Burlakoff, who pleaded guilty to the bribe scheme in November. Attorney Beth Wilkinson said Burlakoff was cutting side deals with doctors on his own and lied when he testified against Kapoor because he's trying to save himself.

Jurors also watched a video meant to motivate sales reps to push doctors to prescribe higher doses of the drug in which employees rapped and danced around a person dressed as a bottle of Subsys.

The former CEO of the company, Michael Babich, has also pleaded guilty and testified against his former colleagues during the trial.

The charge calls for up to 20 years in prison. Kapoor and the others are first-time offenders, so sentencing is expected to be less than that.

Kapoor is among the highest-ranking pharmaceutical executives to face trial amid a national opioid epidemic.

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