John Kapoor, 75, also guilty of defrauding insurance companies, as prosecutors say fentanyl drug Subsys fuelled opioid epidemic
The head of a leading drug manufacturer has been found guilty of bribing doctors to prescribe a dangerous painkiller to patients who did not need it, in the first criminal conviction of a pharma chief over the opioid epidemic.
A Boston jury also found John Kapoor, the 75-year-old billionaire founder of Insys Theraputics, guilty of defrauding insurance companies in the push to sell Subsys, a spray made from fentanyl, a synthetic opioid many times stronger than morphine.
Subsys was approved for terminal cancer patients but the company targeted sales at a much bigger and more profitable market of people with non-life threatening chronic pain. Prosecutors said that fuelled the opioid epidemic and cost lives.
Four other Insys executives were also convicted on similar racketeering charges after the jury took two weeks to deliberate. They each face up to 20 years in prison.
The convictions will spur demands for executives of other opioid makers to be held to account for an epidemic that has claimed about 400,000 lives over the past two decades.
Drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies are already facing hundreds of civil lawsuits by states and cities seeking to recover the costs of the epidemic on public finances, from increased crime to addiction treatment and care for orphaned children. On Thursday, the drug distributor, McKesson, agreed to pay West Virginia $37m to settle a lawsuit over flooding the state with millions of opioid pills without abiding by proper controls.