Co-Conspirator In a Criminal Opioid Case. According to Reuters, United States prosecutors have announced that the founder of Insys Therapeutics Inc. is considered an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal opioid case.
If one is considered an unindicted co-conspirator, it means that prosecutors accuse the individual of engaging in a criminal plot, but the individual has not yet been charged.
Billionaire John Kapoor is accused of criminal activity, acting alongside six former managers and executives within the company. The group, according to court documents, is accused of bribing physicians to prescribe a fentanyl medication in an intricate set-up.
Kapoor resigned from his position as the chief executive of Insys Therapeutics in January. He assumed this position in November of 2015.
Kapoor is included in a group of 80 individuals who have been called unindicted co-conspirators, according to legal documents recently filed in federal court in Boston.
Kapoor’s attorney, Brian Kelly of Nixon Peabody, commented, “He’s done nothing wrong, he hasn’t been charged, and he’s made extensive efforts to improve the situation at the company.”
Kelly added that listing Kapoor in the recently filed federal documents is a “meaningless evidentiary tactic” that would allow prosecutors to submit Kapoor’s statements during the trials of several defendants, including Michael Babich, the former CEO of Insys Therapeutics.
Kapoor’s name was included in an exhibit that was attached to a written motion. The motion was filed on September 6 and asked the court to determine whether one of the defendant’s attorneys may have a conflict of interest in the case.
The attached exhibit was a letter dated February 2. The letter was sent from prosecutors to defense attorneys.
A law professor at Boston College Law School explained that charges may not have been filed against Kapoor yet because of pragmatic reasons, strategic considerations, the accused’s cooperation, or insufficient evidence.
Subsys is a fentanyl-based medication that is administered by spraying it under the tongue. The drug was manufactured and distributed by Insys Therapeutics. Fentanyl is an extremely potent, highly addictive opioid. In the midst of the opioid crisis in the United States, Subsys and Insys Therapeutics came under the analysis of state and federal investigators.
According to federal prosecutors, Babich and the other named defendants were participants in a plot that paid physicians speaker fees for prescribing Subsys to their patients. The defendants are also accused of deceiving insurance companies, leading them to provide coverage for Subsys for patients who did not have cancer. Subsys was originally intended to help cancer patients with pain.
Aside from Babich, the other defendants are Alec Burlakoff and Michael Gurry, the former vice presidents of Insys Therapeutics. Additionally, Richard Simon, the former national sales director, has been named, along with Joseph Rowan and Sunrise Lee, the former regional sales directors of the company.
Each of the six defendants has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A trial has been scheduled for October of 2018.
According to previous statements from Insys Therapeutics, the company took multiple steps to improve compliance efforts as investigations commenced against former employees. The company also argued that Subsys made up less than 1 percent of all opioid prescriptions filled in 2016.
Insys added that it is negotiating settlement terms with the United States Justice Department.
Kapoor now serves as the chairman of Akorn Inc., another drug company. He is also the president of EJ Financial Enterprises Inc., an investment firm.
Aside from the federal case in Boston, federal prosecutors in Alabama, Connecticut, and New York have also brought charges against previous Insys employees and medical professionals.
One patient, Carey Ballou, is convinced that her doctor was being bribed to continue prescribing her Subsys. Ballou was prescribed the medication for more than two years.
Ballou recalled, “I told my husband several times, ‘my gosh, he must be getting paid to prescribe these medications.'”
Ballou added, “He did not want me to stop taking the drug. I asked over a 10-month period.”
Ballou has sued both her physician and Insys Therapeutics. According to the documents filed in her lawsuit, her doctor was allegedly paid $221,000 to prescribe Subsys.
Michael Canty used to be a federal prosecutor, but now he spends his days advising state entities on how to properly sue opioid companies. He said of Insys Therapeutics, “From top to bottom there was nobody there to say wait a minute, this needs to stop. They paid doctors essentially to prescribe the drug, and they did this through a speaker series.”
Kapoor is accused of personally seeking out physicians to prescribe Subsys. He lured them into the scheme with dinners at fancy restaurants, inviting their staff members as well. Payments were provided for “speaking events” that never occurred.
It is alleged that, in 2016, Insys paid out more than $2 million to doctors. The $2 million was paid out in approximately 18,000 installments.
Further, former Insys Therapeutics employees are accused of calling insurance companies and impersonating employees at doctors’ offices.
Sarah Fuller was prescribed Subsys and eventually developed a fentanyl addiction. She died from an overdose.
An Insys employee called Fuller’s insurance company and pretended to be an employee of her doctor’s office. The employee affirmed that the call was being made from the doctor’s office and that the medication was necessary for breakthrough pain. Some cancer patients endure breakthrough pain, which is pain that cannot be alleviated by many painkillers.
However, Fuller never had cancer. She had experienced two motor vehicle accidents and had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Fuller’s mother has claimed that those who prescribed Subsys to Fuller “killed her.” Fuller was just 32 years old when she died and was looking forward to her wedding.
The claims against Insys Therapeutics continue to rise. Other pharmaceutical companies have also settled claims with many states. These claims alleged that the pharmaceutical companies misled the public and medical professionals on the dangers of opioid drugs, particularly on their highly addictive nature. There are additional claims that are still pending as well. So far, several multi-million-dollar verdicts have been paid out.
Pharmaceutical companies must provide medications that are safe. If pharmaceutical companies provide dangerous medications-and especially if they conceal the dangerous nature of these medications-they must be held accountable for the injury they cause.
In 2016, approximately 64,000 individuals in the United States lost their lives to drug overdoses. Overdoses rose by around one-fifth from 2015 to 2016, reports show. Currently, overdoses take more lives than the HIV epidemic did during its peak in 1995; overdoses are also responsible for more deaths than cars or guns. It is estimated that more than 90 Americans die every day because of opioid overdoses.
Fentanyl is largely blamed for these numbers. Whereas a fatal dose of heroin is about 30 milligrams, a lethal dose of fentanyl is just 3 milligrams. Three milligrams of fentanyl can easily kill an average adult male.
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