The founder and chairman of a pharmaceutical company accused of using unscrupulous practices to push sales of its highly addictive cancer treatment to patients without cancer was arrested and charged with racketeering and fraud.
John Kapoor joins six other Insys Therapeutics Inc. officials who have been charged in a scheme to bribe medical professionals to prescribe Subsys, a highly potent, fentanyl-based spray only intended for breakthrough pain in cancer patients. Kapoor is scheduled to appear in a Massachusetts federal court on Nov. 16.
“In the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic that has reached crisis proportions, Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit,” said William D. Weinreb, acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, in a statement.
Kapoor is accused along with Michael L. Babich, Alec Burlakoff, Michael J. Gurry, Richard M. Simon, Sunrise Lee, and Joseph A. Rowan of paying kickbacks to doctors who prescribed Subsys through a phony “speaker program.”
The group is also accused of deceiving insurance companies into covering the cost of the medication for patients without breakthrough cancer pain, the medication’s only indication. A monthly Subsys prescription costs thousands of dollars.
Kapoor was CEO of Insys for more than a year but stepped down shortly after the six employees were indicted. Former Insys employees have been hit with federal charges in other states, and several state attorneys general have sued the company. To date, Insys reportedly paid $9.75 million to settle several state investigations.
“Today’s arrest and charges reflect our ongoing efforts to attack the opioid crisis from all angles,” Weinreb said. “We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable – just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer.”