Billionaire Charged With Bribing Docs to Prescribe Opioids

Dr. John R. Kapoor faces lengthy prison sentences if convicted of opioid drug racketeering. IMAGE: Youtube

Pharmacists and patients lured with free samples

(Cynthia McFadden, NBC News) 

The billionaire founder and former CEO of Insys Therapeutics was arrested this week and charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to use bribes and fraud to boost the sales of a drug intended for cancer patients.

Dr. John N. Kapoor, 74, of Phoenix, Arizona faces federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback law.

Patients were addicted to Subsys through aggressive marketing techniques including free trials and $0 co-pays.

The charges carry possible prison sentences of up to 20 years, while the kickback charge can bring up to five years.

PREVIOUSLY: Consumers Are Furious Over This Billion-Dollar Rx Scandal

Prosecutors say the company paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to doctors in exchange for prescribing a spray called Subsys that contained the powerful and addictive synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Three top prescribers have already been convicted of taking bribes from Insys.

NBC News reported extensively on the company this summer. In her first network interview, Patty Nixon, a company employee turned whistleblower, explained how the company lured doctors into prescribing the drug for patients who didn’t need it.

Scheme included downloadable ‘Savings Program’ cards; “it was absolutely genius”

“It was absolutely genius,” Patty Nixon said of the alleged scheme. “It was wrong, but it was genius.”

“I did what I was instructed to do, what I was trained to do,” said Nixon, who was fired by Insys after she says she felt guilty about lying on the job and stopped showing up for work.

After Kapoor’s arrest, Nixon said, “I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. Dr. Kapoor is an evil man. I give a lot of credit to all the people who worked on bringing him to justice.”

She said that if called upon to testify against Kapoor, “I absolutely will.”

Subsys is 100 times stronger than morphine. It was approved by the FDA to treat patients with cancer whose pain is so severe that other narcotics are not effective. READ THE FULL STORY AT NBCNEWS.COM. Also of interest: Las Vegas Doctor, 93, Gets 10-Year Prison Term in Drug Case