UB alumnus arrested for alleged opioid scheme

UB alumnus arrested for alleged opioid scheme

John Kapoor has been arrested in Arizona, charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and pharmacists to widely prescribe an opioid cancer drug for people who did not need it. Subsys, as the drug is known, transmits the extremely powerful narcotic in spray form, allowing it to be placed beneath the tongue for fast, potent pain relief.

News of Kapoor's arrest comes as media reports suggest that President Trump is on the cusp of declaring opioid addiction as a public health emergency.

"In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies exclusively for profit", said Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb.

In the new indictment, Kapoor, of Phoenix, Arizona, and the other defendants are accused of offering bribes to doctors to write large numbers of prescriptions for the fentanyl-based Subsys pain medication that is only approved by the FDA for used by cancer patients with severe nerve pain.

Though the bribes, which included speaker fees, food, entertainment and administrative support to medical practitioners across the country, helped increase the company's revenue, the court documents say, insurance agencies were reluctant to approve payment for the drug when it was prescribed to patients without cancer. "Today's charges mark an important step in holding pharmaceutical executives responsible for their part in the opioid crisis". Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that can be up to 100 times more potent than morphine. A former Insys sales representative in Alabama also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to violate the antikickback statute by paying two doctors to prescribe the drug. We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable-just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer. Defense attorney Brian Kelly said after Thursday's hearing that his client is not guilty and will fight the charges.

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In April, The Spectrum reported on the charges surrounding Kapoor's company, after six other Insys executives were indicted on federal charges in December 2016.

Kapoor is due to appear in US District Court in Phoenix.

A spokesman for Arizona-based Insys said this week that the company is under new management and has replaced almost all its original sales staff.

"We also continue to work with relevant authorities to resolve issues related to the misdeeds of former employees", a company statement said.

Kapoor stepped down as CEO in January, but still serves on its board.

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