Billionaire That Bribed Doctors May Be The First To Go To Jail For The Opioid Crisis


Dr. John N. Kapoor has been officially charged with bribing doctors to prescribe deadly opioids.

Erik McLaren
Nov 13, 2017
Dr. Sandeep Kapoor listens during arraignment in connection with supplying perscription drugs to An

An Arizona doctor has been charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback law. If these allegations are true, billionaire Dr. John N. Kapoor may be the first person to go to jail for their role in the opioid crisis.

Billionaire Officially Charged With Bribing Doctors To Prescribe Deadly opioids 1 of 4 Billionaire That Bribed Doctors May Be The First To Go To Jail For The Opioid Crisis
LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 13: Howard K. Stern, (C) longtime confidant of Anna Nicole Smith, and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor (L) look on as their lawyers Steven H. Sadow (R), and Ellyn S. Garofalo (2L) speak during the proceedings, after they were arraigned at Los Angeles Criminal Courts on May 13, 2009, in Los Angeles, California. Kapoor along with Stern and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich were arraigned today on six felony counts after being accused of conspiring to furnish drugs to Anna Nicole Smith. The one-time Playboy Playmate died in February of 2007 after an accidental drug overdose of prescription medication at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Hollywood, Florida at the age of 39. (Photo by Spencer Weiner-Pool/Getty Images)

Patty Nixon, the woman who would eventually blow the whistle on Dr. Kapoor, told NBC news his scheme was evil, “but brilliant.”

Kapoor’s company, Insys, sells a pain medication that contains fentanyl. Fentanyl is the strongest opioid ever, and perhaps the deadliest street drug in history. The company’s drug should have occupied a niche segment. Originally, it was for cancer patients.

To suck as much money as possible from insurance companies, Kapoor would bribe doctors, and train his sales staff to dupe insurance providers into covering the drug, even for people without cancer. Sarah Fuller, a woman, prescribed Kapoor’s fentanyl-based treatment, only suffered from aches and pains. Fuller died of an overdose, and her family is suing Insys.

Prosecutors allege the companies lies were bold and entirely motivated by profit. Nixon told NBC News she was trained to lie about the office she called from, and would even invent likely diseases the insurance would cover, regardless of if the patient actually had that ailment. The three doctors who prescribed Kapoors fentanyl-based painkiller the most have already been convicted of taking bribes.

Several Insys board members and executives have also been charged. Prosecutors say that this company had bribery and malfeasance baked into the company culture. For now, the company denies wrongdoing and says it should not be held responsible for how doctors prescribe their drug.

Billionaire Officially Charged With Bribing Doctors To Prescribe Deadly opioids 3 of 4 Billionaire That Bribed Doctors May Be The First To Go To Jail For The Opioid Crisis
Virgie Arthur (C), the mother of Anna Nicole Smith, leaves Los Angeles Superior Court during the lunch break on the first day of opening statements in the trial of Smith’s longtime companion and two doctors, who are charged with conspiring to furnish drugs to an addict, August 4, 2010 in Los Angeles. Smith’s companion Howard K. Stern, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich are the co-defendants in the case. Smith, a one-time Playboy Playmate, died in February 2007 at the age of 39 after an accidental overdose of prescription medications. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

This might be the first in a wave of consequences for the pharmaceutical industry

While this company is relatively small in the world of Big Pharma, it sold nearly $230 million of the fentanyl-based medication, just last year. If these allegations are true, greed is really what brought this company down. Bribing doctors and screwing insurance companies is not a business practice for the long term. Many other pharmaceutical companies have more blood on their hands than Insys.

Purdue Pharma, for example, has played a bigger role in the opioid crisis than any other actor. Oxycontin, at one point the most popular pain medication in the United States, is Purdue’s drug. Oxycontin really kicked off the opioid epidemic we’re currently living through. Purdue lied about the safety of its drug, and it’s addictive properties, according to the New Yorker.

Most consequences for Big Pharma companies come from large settlements. This case may be a watershed moment where some people actually go to jail for their role in the crisis.

What the Purdue and Insys have in common is trafficking in misery for profit. The similarities stop there. The Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma, are unlikely ever to have to experience painful consequences like Kapoor. Purdue did pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, but that’s hardly a drop in the bucket for the billions Oxycontin raked in. There are new lawsuits every day for Purdue, but unless there’s a historic ruling, the Sackler family is well insulated.

Hopefully, there’s a lesson in this case of bribery and misleading people; a blueprint to bring charges against the ultra-rich who’ve profited off addiction, suffering, and death. Dr. Kappoor thought himself invincible. Other’s in the opioid industry aren’t so naive.

Billionaire Officially Charged With Bribing Doctors To Prescribe Deadly opioids 4 of 4 Billionaire That Bribed Doctors May Be The First To Go To Jail For The Opioid Crisis
A bottle of Purdue Pharma L.P. OxyContin medication sits on a pharmacy shelf in Provo, Utah, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016. A Nov. 2015 forecast from health data firm IMS Health expects global sales of brand and generic prescription drugs, and nonprescription medicines, to total $1.4 trillion in 2020. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images




Erik McLaren
Nov 13, 2017